JOINT MEETING TO HEAR AN ADDRESS BY POPE FRANCIS OF THE HOLY SEE
(House of Representatives - September 24, 2015)

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[Pages H6191-H6194]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                              {time}  0945
    JOINT MEETING TO HEAR AN ADDRESS BY POPE FRANCIS OF THE HOLY SEE

  During the recess, the House was called to order by the Speaker at 9 
o'clock and 45 minutes a.m.
  The Assistant to the Sergeant at Arms, Ms. Kathleen Joyce, announced 
the Vice President and Members of the U.S. Senate, who entered the Hall 
of the House of Representatives, the Vice President taking the chair at 
the right of the Speaker, and the Members of the Senate the seats 
reserved for them.
  The SPEAKER. The joint meeting will come to order.
  The Chair appoints as members of the committee on the part of the 
House to escort Pope Francis into the Chamber:
  The gentleman from California (Mr. McCarthy);
  The gentleman from Louisiana (Mr. Scalise);
  The gentlewoman from Washington (Mrs. McMorris Rodgers);
  The gentleman from Oregon (Mr. Walden);
  The gentleman from Indiana (Mr. Messer);
  The gentlewoman from North Carolina (Ms. Foxx);
  The gentlewoman from Kansas (Ms. Jenkins);
  The gentlewoman from California (Ms. Pelosi);
  The gentleman from Maryland (Mr. Hoyer);
  The gentleman from South Carolina (Mr. Clyburn);
  The gentleman from California (Mr. Becerra);
  The gentleman from New York (Mr. Crowley);
  The gentlewoman from Connecticut (Ms. DeLauro); and
  The gentleman from New Mexico (Mr. Ben Ray Lujan).
  The VICE PRESIDENT. The President of the Senate, at the direction of 
that body, appoints the following Senators as members of the committee 
on the part of the Senate to escort Pope Francis into the House 
Chamber:
  The Senator from Kentucky (Mr. McConnell);
  The Senator from Texas (Mr. Cornyn);

[[Page H6192]]

  The Senator from Utah (Mr. Hatch);
  The Senator from South Dakota (Mr. Thune);
  The Senator from Wyoming (Mr. Barrasso);
  The Senator from Missouri (Mr. Blunt);
  The Senator from Mississippi (Mr. Wicker);
  The Senator from Maine (Ms. Collins);
  The Senator from Alaska (Ms. Murkowski);
  The Senator from Tennessee (Mr. Corker);
  The Senator from New Hampshire (Ms. Ayotte);
  The Senator from Nevada (Mr. Reid);
  The Senator from Illinois (Mr. Durbin);
  The Senator from New York (Mr. Schumer);
  The Senator from Washington (Mrs. Murray);
  The Senator from Vermont (Mr. Leahy);
  The Senator from Montana (Mr. Tester);
  The Senator from Michigan (Ms. Stabenow);
  The Senator from Minnesota (Ms. Klobuchar);
  The Senator from Maryland (Mr. Cardin);
  The Senator from New Jersey (Mr. Menendez); and
  The Senator from Maryland (Ms. Mikulski).
  The Assistant to the Sergeant at Arms announced the Dean of the 
Diplomatic Corps, His Excellency Hersey Kyota, the Ambassador of the 
Republic of Palau.
  The Dean of the Diplomatic Corps entered the Hall of the House of 
Representatives and took the seat reserved for him.
  The Assistant to the Sergeant at Arms announced the Chief Justice of 
the United States and the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court.
  The Chief Justice of the United States and the Associate Justices of 
the Supreme Court entered the Hall of the House of Representatives and 
took the seats reserved for them in front of the Speaker's rostrum.
  The Assistant to the Sergeant at Arms announced the Cabinet of the 
President of the United States.
  The members of the Cabinet of the President of the United States 
entered the Hall of the House of Representatives and took the seats 
reserved for them in front of the Speaker's rostrum.
  At 10 o'clock and 2 minutes a.m., the Sergeant at Arms, the Honorable 
Paul D. Irving, announced Pope Francis of the Holy See.
  Pope Francis of the Holy See, escorted by the committee of Senators 
and Representatives, entered the Hall of the House of Representatives 
and stood at the Clerk's desk.
  (Applause, the Members rising.)
  The SPEAKER. Members of Congress, I have the high privilege and the 
distinct honor of presenting to you Pope Francis of the Holy See.
  (Applause, the Members rising.)
  POPE FRANCIS. Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, Honorable Members of 
Congress, dear friends, I am most grateful for your invitation to 
address this joint session of Congress in ``the land of the free and 
the home of the brave.'' I would like to think that the reason for this 
is that I, too, am a son of this great continent from which we have all 
received so much and toward which we share a common responsibility.
  Each son or daughter of a given country has a mission, a personal and 
social responsibility. Your own responsibility as Members of Congress 
is to enable this country, by your legislative activity, to grow as a 
nation. You are the face of its people, their representatives. You are 
called to defend and preserve the dignity of your fellow citizens in 
the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good, for this is the 
chief aim of all politics.
  A political society endures when it seeks, as a vocation, to satisfy 
common needs by stimulating the growth of all its members, especially 
those in situations of greater vulnerability or risk. Legislative 
activity is always based on care for the people. To this you have been 
invited, called, and convened by those who elected you.
  Yours is a work which makes me reflect in two ways on the figure of 
Moses. 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 life.
  Today I would like not only to address you, but, through you, the 
entire people of the United States. Here, together with their 
representatives, I would like to take this opportunity to dialogue with 
the many thousands of men and women who strive each day to do an honest 
day's work, to bring home their daily bread, to save money, and--one 
step at a time--to build a better life for their families.
  These are men and women who are not concerned simply with paying 
their taxes but, in their own quiet way, sustain the life of society. 
They generate solidarity by their actions, and they create 
organizations which offer a helping hand to those most in need.
  I would also like to enter into a dialogue with the many elderly 
persons who are a storehouse of wisdom forged by experience and who 
seek in many ways, especially through volunteer work, to share their 
stories and their insights. I know that many of them are retired but 
still active; they keep working to build up this land.
  I also want to dialogue with all those young people who are working 
to realize their great and noble aspirations, who are not led astray by 
facile proposals, and who face difficult situations, often as a result 
of immaturity on the part of many adults. I wish to dialogue with all 
of you, and I would like to do so through the historical memory of your 
people.
  My visit takes place at a time when men and women of goodwill are 
marking the anniversaries of several great Americans. The complexities 
of history and the reality of human weakness notwithstanding, these men 
and women, for all their many differences and limitations, were able by 
hard work and self-sacrifice--some at the cost of their lives--to build 
a better future. They shaped fundamental values which will endure 
forever in the spirit of the American people.
  A people with this spirit can live through many crises, tensions, and 
conflicts while always finding the resources to move forward and to do 
so with dignity. These men and women offer us a way of seeing and 
interpreting reality. In honoring their memory, we are inspired, even 
amid conflicts and in the here and now of each day, to draw upon our 
deepest cultural reserves.
  I would like to mention four of these Americans: Abraham Lincoln, 
Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day, and Thomas Merton.
  This year marks the 150th anniversary of the assassination of 
President Abraham Lincoln, the guardian of liberty, who labored 
tirelessly that ``this Nation, under God, might have a new birth of 
freedom.'' Building a future of freedom requires love of the common 
good and cooperation in a spirit of subsidiarity and solidarity.
  All of us are quite aware of and deeply worried by the disturbing 
social and political situation of the world today. Our world is 
increasingly a place of violent conflict, hatred, and brutal atrocities 
committed even in the name of God and of religion. We know that no 
religion is immune from forms of individual delusion or ideological 
extremism.
  This means that we must be especially attentive to every type of 
fundamentalism, whether religious or of any other kind. 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.
  But there is another temptation which we must especially guard 
against: the simplistic reductionism which sees only good or evil; or, 
if you will, the righteous and sinners. The contemporary world, with 
its open wounds which affect so many of our brothers and sisters, 
demands that we confront every form of polarization which would divide 
it into these two camps.
  We know that, in the attempt to be freed of the enemy without, we can 
be tempted to feed the enemy within. To

[[Page H6193]]

imitate the hatred and violence of tyrants and murderers is the best 
way to take their place. That is something which you, as a people, 
reject.
  Our response must, instead, be one of hope and healing, of peace and 
justice. We are asked to summon the courage and the intelligence to 
resolve today's many geopolitical and economic crises. Even in the 
developed world, the effects of unjust structures and actions are all 
too apparent.
  Our efforts must aim at restoring hope, righting wrongs, maintaining 
commitments, and thus promoting the well-being of individuals and of 
peoples. We must move forward together, as one, in a renewed spirit of 
fraternity and solidarity, cooperating generously for the common good.
  The challenges facing us today call for a renewal of that spirit of 
cooperation, which has accomplished so much good throughout the history 
of the United States. The complexity, the gravity, and the urgency of 
these challenges demand that we pool our resources and talents and 
resolve to support one another with respect for our differences and our 
convictions of conscience.
  In this land, the various religious denominations have greatly 
contributed to building and strengthening society. It is important that 
today, as in the past, the voice of faith continue to be heard, for it 
is a voice of fraternity and love, which tries to bring out the best in 
each person and in each society. Such cooperation is a powerful 
resource in the battle to eliminate new global forms of slavery, born 
of grave injustices which can be overcome only through new policies and 
new forms of social consensus.
  Politics is, instead, an expression of our compelling need to live as 
one, in order to build as one the greatest common good: that of a 
community which sacrifices particular interests in order to share, in 
justice and peace, its goods, its interests, its social life. I do not 
underestimate the difficulty that this involves, but I encourage you in 
this effort.
  Here, too, I think of the march which Martin Luther King led from 
Selma to Montgomery 50 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: dreams which lead to 
action, to participation, to commitment; dreams which awaken what is 
deepest and truest in the life of the people.
  In recent centuries, millions of people came to this land to pursue 
their dream of building a future in freedom. We, the people of this 
continent, are not fearful of foreigners because most of us were once 
foreigners. I say this to you as the son of immigrants, knowing that so 
many of you are also descendants of immigrants.
  Tragically, the rights of those who were here long before us were not 
always respected. For those peoples and their nations, from the heart 
of American democracy, I wish to reaffirm my highest esteem and 
appreciation. Those first contacts were often turbulent and violent, 
but we know that it is very difficult to judge the past by the criteria 
of the present.
  Nonetheless, when the stranger in our midst appeals to us, we must 
not repeat the sins and the errors of the past. We must resolve now to 
live as nobly and as justly as possible, as we educate new generations 
not to turn their back on our neighbors and everything around us. 
Building a nation calls us to recognize that we must constantly relate 
to others, rejecting a mindset of hostility in order to adopt one of 
reciprocal subsidiarity, in a constant effort to do our best. I am 
confident that we can do this.
  Our world is facing a refugee crisis of a magnitude not seen since 
the Second World War. This presents us with great challenges and many 
hard decisions. On this continent, too, thousands of persons are led to 
travel north in search of a better life for themselves and for their 
loved ones, in search of greater opportunities. Is this not what we 
want for our own children? 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, to 
respond in a way which is always humane, just, and fraternal. 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.''

  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. This conviction 
has led me, from the beginning of my ministry, to advocate at different 
levels for the global abolition of the death penalty. I am convinced 
that this way is the best, since every life is sacred, every human 
person is endowed with an inalienable dignity, and society can only 
benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes.
  Recently, my brother bishops here in the United States renewed their 
call for the abolition of the death penalty. Not only do I support 
them, but I also offer encouragement to all those who are convinced 
that a just and necessary punishment must never exclude the dimension 
of hope and the goal of rehabilitation.
  In these times when social concerns are so important, I cannot fail 
to mention the servant of God, Dorothy Day, who founded the Catholic 
Worker Movement. Her social activism, her passion for justice and for 
the cause of the oppressed were inspired by the Gospel, her faith, and 
the example of the saints.
  How much progress has been made in this area in so many parts of the 
world. How much has been done in these first years of the third 
millennium to raise people out of extreme poverty. I know that you 
share my conviction that much more still needs to be done, and in times 
of crisis and economic hardship, a spirit of global solidarity must not 
be lost.
  At the same time, I would encourage you to keep in mind all those 
people around us who are trapped in a cycle of poverty. They too need 
to be given hope. The fight against poverty and hunger must be fought 
constantly and on many fronts, especially in its causes. I know that 
many Americans today, as in the past, are working to deal with this 
problem.
  It goes without saying that part of this great effort is the creation 
and distribution of wealth. The right use of natural resources, the 
proper application of technology, and the harnessing of the spirit of 
enterprise are essential elements of an economy which seeks to be 
modern, inclusive, and sustainable.
  ``Business is a noble vocation, directed to producing wealth and 
improving the world. It can be a fruitful source of prosperity for the 
area in which it operates, especially if it sees the creation of jobs 
as an essential part of its service to the common good.''
  This common good also includes the Earth, a central theme of the 
encyclical which I recently wrote in order to ``enter into dialogue 
with all people about our common home.'' ``We need a conversation which 
includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, 
and its human roots, concern and affect us all.''
  In Laudato Si', I call for a courageous and responsible effort to 
``redirect our steps'' and to avert the most serious effects of the 
environmental deterioration caused by human activity. I am convinced 
that we can make a difference. I am sure and I have no doubt that the 
United States and this Congress have an important role to play.
  Now is the time for courageous actions and strategies aimed at 
implementing a ``culture of care'' and ``an integrated approach to 
combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same 
time protecting nature.'' ``We have the freedom needed to limit and 
direct technology, to devise intelligent ways of . . . developing and 
limiting our power,'' and to put technology ``at the service of another 
type of progress, one which is healthier, more human, more social, more 
integral.'' In this regard, I am confident

[[Page H6194]]

that America's outstanding academic and research institutions can make 
a vital contribution in the years ahead.
  A century ago, at the beginning of the Great War, which Pope Benedict 
XV termed a ``pointless slaughter,'' another notable American was born: 
the Cistercian monk Thomas Merton. He remains a source of spiritual 
inspiration and a guide for many people.
  In his autobiography, Merton wrote: ``I came into the world. Free by 
nature, in the image of God, I was nevertheless the prisoner of my own 
violence and my own selfishness, in the image of the world into which I 
was born. That world was the picture of Hell, full of men like myself, 
loving God, and yet hating him; born to love him, living instead in 
fear of hopeless self-contradictory hungers.''
  Merton was, above all, a man of prayer, a thinker who challenged the 
certitudes of his time and opened new horizons for souls and for the 
Church. He was also a man of dialogue, a promoter of peace between 
peoples and religions.
  From this perspective of dialogue, I would like to recognize the 
efforts made in recent months to help overcome historic differences 
linked to painful episodes of the past.
  It is my duty to build bridges and to help all men and women, in any 
way possible, to do the same. When countries which have been at odds 
resume the path of dialogue--a dialogue which may have been interrupted 
for the most legitimate of reasons--new opportunities open up for all.
  This has required, and requires, courage and daring, which is not the 
same as irresponsibility. A good political leader is one who, with the 
interests of all in mind, seizes the moment in a spirit of openness and 
pragmatism. A good political leader always opts to initiate processes 
rather than possessing spaces.
  Being at the service of dialogue and peace also means being truly 
determined to minimize and, in the long term, to end the many armed 
conflicts throughout our world. Here we have to ask ourselves: Why are 
deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering 
on individuals and society?
  Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money, money that is 
drenched in blood, often innocent blood. In the face of this shameful 
and culpable silence, it is our duty to confront the problem and to 
stop the arms trade.
  Three sons and one daughter of this land, four individuals and four 
dreams: Lincoln, liberty; Martin Luther King, liberty in plurality and 
non-exclusion; Dorothy Day, social justice and the rights of persons; 
and Thomas Merton, the capacity for dialogue and openness to God. Four 
representatives of the American people.
  I will end my visit to your country in Philadelphia, where I will 
take part in the World Meeting of Families. 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, and how 
worthy it remains for our support and encouragement.
  Yet I cannot hide my concern for the family, which is threatened, 
perhaps as never before, from within and without. Fundamental 
relationships are being called into question, as is the very basis of 
marriage and the family. I can only reiterate the importance and, above 
all, the richness and the beauty of family life.
  In particular, I would like to call attention to those family members 
who are the most vulnerable: the young. For many of them, a future 
filled with countless possibilities beckons, yet so many others seem 
disoriented and aimless, trapped in a hopeless maze of violence, abuse, 
and despair.
  Their problems are our problems. We cannot avoid them. We need to 
face them together, to talk about them, and to seek effective solutions 
rather than getting bogged down in discussions. At the risk of 
oversimplifying, we might say that we live in a culture which pressures 
young people not to start a family, because they lack possibilities for 
the future. Yet this same culture presents others with so many options 
that they, too, are dissuaded from starting a family.
  A nation can be considered great when it defends liberty, as Lincoln 
did; when it fosters a culture which enables people to ``dream'' of 
full rights for all brothers and sisters, as Martin Luther King sought 
to do; when it strives for justice and the cause of the oppressed, as 
Dorothy Day did by her tireless work; the fruit of a faith, which 
becomes dialogue and sows peace in the contemplative style of Thomas 
Merton.
  In these remarks, I have sought to present some of the richness of 
your cultural heritage, of the spirit of the American people. It is my 
desire that this spirit continue to develop and grow, so that as many 
young people as possible can inherit and dwell in a land which has 
inspired so many people to dream.
  God bless America.
  (Applause, the Members rising.)
  At 10 o'clock and 55 minutes a.m., Pope Francis of the Holy See, 
accompanied by the Speaker and the Vice President, retired from the 
Hall of the House of Representatives.

                          ____________________