Pope Francis Makes Passionate Speech on Capitol Hill. Pope Francis Address to Joint Meeting of Congress. Il discorso integrale di Papa Francesco al Congresso degli Stati Uniti. Dall’immigrazione alla pena di morte, tanti i temi affrontati dal Pontefice nel suo storico intervento. Pope Francis addressed a joint meeting of Congress, the first pontiff in history to address both chambers. Pope Francis speech puts Congress on defensive over immigration, climate and more. Pope Francis makes historic address to US Congress. Pope Francis has become the first pontiff to address a joint meeting of the US Congress, where he received a warm welcome from more than 500 lawmakers, justices and officials.
He was greeted at the US Capitol by Speaker of the House John Boehner, who is Catholic, and then entered the chamber to thunderous applause.
He began his speech by warning of the dangers of “ideological extremism”.
And he emphasised the importance of welcoming immigrants.
He said the world is facing a refugee crisis of a magnitude not seen since World War Two, and noted that thousands travel north into the US for a better life every year.
“We must not be taken aback by their numbers, but rather view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories, trying to respond as best we can to their situation,” he said.
Also in the speech:
◾he related the work of lawmakers to that of Moses, saying they had a responsibility to promote unity through “just legislation”
◾the world must be attentive to “fundamentalism, whether religious or of any other kind”
◾touched on economic inequality saying “even in the developed world, the effects of unjust structure and actions are all too apparent”
◾renewed calls for “the global abolition of the death penalty” saying criminals should be rehabilitated
◾he reaffirmed his “esteem and appreciation” to the indigenous people of the Americas who faced “turbulent and violent” contacts with colonising powers
◾noting that most Congress members were the descendents of migrants, he urged them to “treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated”
After finishing with the words “God bless America”, he received a prolonged standing ovation.
Thousands of people have gathered on the West Lawn of the Capitol hoping to see the 78-year-old Argentine pontiff.
Sitting behind him was Vice President Joe Biden and Mr Boehner, the first and second in line to the presidency, who are both Roman Catholics.
Mr Boehner, a Republican, is a former altar boy who invited the Pope to speak after failing to persuade his two predecessors to do likewise. He has ruled out fears that Francis – who has a reputation for being politically engaged – will stir up controversy.
“The Pope transcends all of this,” Mr Boehner wrote in an online essay. “He appeals to our better angels and brings us back to our daily obligations. The best thing we can all do is listen, open our hearts to his message and reflect on his example.’
Catholics in America:
◾80 million baptised as Catholics
◾Six of the nine Supreme Court justices are Catholic
◾31% of the US Congress (22% general population)
◾One Catholic president (JFK) and one vice-president (Joe Biden)
◾Six Catholic Republicans running for president, the most ever
Later on Thursday the Pope is due to share a meal with homeless people.
On Wednesday, he upset some victims of clerical child abuse by offering sympathy to US bishops while saying little to address the suffering of the survivors, our correspondent says.
On his way to Washington from Cuba, Pope Francis told journalists that despite his criticism of capitalism he was not “a leftie”, as the media had sometimes painted him.