No Papal Bull: Francis Hails Peace and the Activists Who Fight for It

October 01, 2015

By Amy Goodman & Denis Moynihan

Pope Francis has left the building. His first trip to the United States created news at every turn.

On Thursday, Sept. 24, Pope Francis made his historic address to the joint session of Congress, the first time for a pope. When dealing with refugees, he said, “Let us remember the Golden Rule: ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’” To that assembly of lawmakers, a majority of whom support capital punishment, he called for global abolition of the death penalty. He also called for an end to the international arms trade, saying, “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.” Nevertheless, as he read his remarks aloud in a slow, careful English (his fifth language), he was frequently interrupted by rousing, bipartisan standing ovations.

Pope Francis framed his talk around four Americans: Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr. and two lesser-known figures, two Catholics, Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton. “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.”

Lincoln and King need little introduction. Dorothy Day was a crusading 20th-century activist who is formally being considered for Catholic sainthood.

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