The audience for Pope Francis’ historic speech before Congress today was supposed to hold its applause, but many people ignored that rule; 34 times, in fact. Many of Francis’ remarks received bipartisan plaudits, while some lines were much more polarizing.
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Here are some of the lines that got the biggest ovations:
A delicate balance is required to combat violence perpetrated in the name of a religion, an ideology or an economic system, while also safeguarding religious freedom, intellectual freedom and individual freedoms.
Pope Francis didn’t discuss any specific worldwide conflicts, but made his views on them clear, emphasizing the importance of people’s ability to express their beliefs but not to use them to justify violence.
I think of the march which Martin Luther King led from Selma to Montgomery fifty years ago as part of the campaign to fulfill his “dream” of full civil and political rights for African Americans. That dream continues to inspire us all. I am happy that America continues to be, for many, a land of “dreams.”
For an audience of mostly members of Congress, the imagery of the “dream” has a pointed, dual resonance: It stands for King’s aspirations, but it’s also become a catchall term for young undocumented Americans, the so-called “dreamers” who want comprehensive immigration reform. Francis has been vocal about his belief that immigrants should be welcomed into the countries where they are seeking to live.
It is my wish that throughout my visit the family should be a recurrent theme. How essential the family has been to the building of this country!
The mention of “the family” seemed to be a nod to the socially conservative values of the Roman Catholic Church, among them an emphasis on a nuclear family consisting of a mother and father. While Pope Francis has indicated a more accepting view of gay people than his predecessors, he has not made any effort to change church doctrine on issues regarding same-sex relationships.
This line was broad enough to elicit praise from both sides of the aisle, but was a clear, if indirect, statement of where Francis, as the leader of his church, stands on the concept of family.