Pope Francis became the first pope to ever address a joint session of Congress on September 24th—and while the occasion was significant in that regard alone, his speech has caused a stir in the global community. Supporters of immigration, especially, were moved by the parts of Francis’ speech that addressed the topic of immigration and its role in the United States. Key takeaways from Francis’ time in Congress include:
A passionate show of support for the world’s immigrants
Most striking about Pope Francis’ address to Congress was his passionate show of support for the world’s immigrants. Francis, who comes from an immigrant family himself, spoke about the importance of welcoming immigrants into the country, stating that “most of us were once foreigners” at some point in the country’s development.
Pope Francis’ pro-immigration stance isn’t surprising, for a few reasons. The very nature of his position (and things he’s said in the past) points to a man who encourages love and acceptance for all people. His concern for immigrants is only strengthened by his birthplace of Buenos Aires, Argentina. South American born peoples make up about seven percent of the United States’ total immigrant population.
A balancing of two cultures
It is notable that Pope Francis spoke to Congress in English, even though it is not his first language. Following his address, however, Francis headed to the Speaker’s Balcony of the Capitol to pray in his native tongue, Spanish, with all those who were watching. This transition placed on a global stage the constant balancing act that immigrants to the US often find themselves performing in their daily lives—and the moment was received positively by those who related.
A call for compassion
Throughout (and following) his address to Congress, Pope Francis demonstrated compassion for people from all walks of life—no matter their background or economic status. He called for those watching to do the same. Francis spoke about the “Golden Rule” (which urges people to do unto each other as they would have done unto themselves) and showing solidarity for all people, including immigrants to the country. He also mentioned the largest “refugee crisis… since the second World War” to advance his pro-immigration viewpoint to the public. This show of compassion comes at a time when immigration is an important, hot button issue in politics, especially among presidential candidates and the media.
Francis’ visit to Washington, D.C. also moved millions when he stopped during his papal parade to speak with a five-year-old girl from Los Angeles named Sophie. She made her way past the parade’s metal fences to greet Francis and hand him a handwritten letter and accompanying drawing, urging the pope to help reform immigration and “stop deporting [immigrant] parents.”
While Pope Francis’ words certainly moved people all around the world, they don’t necessarily carry equal weight in the eyes of the government. Nevertheless, Francis’ groundbreaking address to Congress and his show of kindness and compassion for people all around the world was certainly a step in the right direction for supporters of immigration.