Pope Francis Addresses Joint Session of Congress

By Dave Andrusko

Pope Francis

Pope Francis

In his address this morning to a joint session of Congress, Pope Francis told legislators that The Golden Rule “reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development” and once again defended the importance of religious liberty.

The Pontiff, the spiritual leader of 1.2 billion Catholics, called upon Congress to help heal the world’s “open wounds,” and while this allusion was directed to other issues in this speech, it could also be perfectly applied to the self-inflicted wound of abortion.

In his message, delivered in English, Pope Francis said

We need to avoid a common temptation nowadays: to discard whatever proves troublesome. Let us remember the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Mt 7:12).

This Rule points us in a clear direction. Let us treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated. Let us seek for others the same possibilities which we seek for ourselves. Let us help others to grow, as we would like to be helped ourselves. In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities. The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us. The Golden Rule also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development.

Pope Francis began his address by alluding to the white marble relief of the image of Moses that hangs over the gallery doors overlooking the lawmakers in the House of Representatives Chamber.

“Yours is a work which makes me reflect in two ways on the figure of Moses,“ he said. “On the one hand, the patriarch and lawgiver of the people of Israel symbolizes the need of peoples to keep alive their sense of unity by means of just legislation. On the other, the figure of Moses leads us directly to God and thus to the transcendent dignity of the human being. Moses provides us with a good synthesis of your work: you are asked to protect, by means of the law, the image and likeness fashioned by God on every human face.”


As “a way of seeing and interpreting reality,” Pope Francis offered the examples of four great Americans—Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., and two 20th Century American Catholics, Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton. As CNN said of Ms. Day, she was “a convert to Catholicism who founded the Catholic Worker movement that served the poor; she also had an abortion to her deep regret and urged other women not to follow her example.”

On Wednesday, at the arrival ceremony in his honor at the White House, Pope Francis said that American Catholics are “concerned that efforts to build a just and wisely ordered society respect their deepest concerns and the right to religious liberty.” The Pope told the President, “As my brothers, the United States bishops have reminded us, all are called to be vigilant, precisely as good citizens, to preserve and defend that freedom from everything that would threaten or compromise it.”

Later in the day, in a show of solidarity, the Pope met with The Little Sisters of the Poor, which operates homes for the elderly in cities across the country. Based in Colorado, the nuns have battled against the controversial Obama mandate requiring organizations, including religious organizations, to provide health coverage for drugs and procedures to which they have moral or religious objections.

“The Little Sisters first filed a lawsuit in 2013,” the Washington Post reported. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in July ruled that the Little Sisters must comply with the requirement. But “In August, the same circuit granted them a stay to protect them from fines while they petition their case to the Supreme Court, which is expected in October or November to decide whether to take their case,” according to the Post.

“This is a sign, obviously, of support for them,” said the Vatican Press Secretary, Rev. Federico Lombardi.