A political pope is sure to seize his opportunity when he addresses a political body. So both Democrats and Republicans are looking forward to Pope Francis’ remarks to Congress next month – and bracing for them, too.
The pope thrills Democrats with his teachings on climate change, social justice and immigration. At the same time, his message on life and the Catholic Church’s traditional opposition to abortion comfort Republicans.
There is genuine giddiness among Catholic Democrats – many of whom have long been uncomfortably at odds with their church over abortion rights – about the pope’s strong emphasis on addressing poverty and the environment.
“I’ve been waiting for this pope all my life,” said liberal Massachusetts Democrat Jim McGovern, 57. “I find him inspirational and I know a lot of other people do, not just Catholics.”
The pope comes to the Capitol on Sept. 24, where he will be the first pontiff to ever address a joint meeting of Congress. He will also appear on a West Front balcony to greet the public.
There’s little doubt that Francis, who in a speech last month in Bolivia spoke out against unchecked capitalism before an assemblage of groups representing the poor, will seek to send a similar message to lawmakers representing the richest nation on earth.