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Monday, October 24, 2016

By Philip Pullella and Jeff Mason

WASHINGTON (Reuters) — Pope Francis on Wednesday urged the United States to help tackle climate change and touched on other divisive U.S. political issues such as immigration and economic inequality on his first visit to the world’s richest nation.

In a speech on the White House South Lawn, the Argentine pontiff lauded President Barack Obama’s efforts to reduce air pollution, months after Francis made the environment one of his top issues by issuing a landmark encyclical letter to the church.

“It seems clear to me also that climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation. When it comes to the care of our common home, we are living at a critical moment of history,” the pope said at a welcoming ceremony.

In an era of renewed racial tensions in the country, the 78-year-old Pope invoked America’s best known civil rights leader, the late Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. to make points about the environment and equality.

Speaking later to American bishops, Francis acknowledged the sexual abuse scandal that has tainted the U.S. Church for years by saying these “crimes” should “never be repeated.”

As Washington streets were closed and federal workers stayed home, about 15,000 people gathered in bright sunshine on the South Lawn. They heard the pope depart from his usual practice and give a speech in English.

He again made a gesture of simplicity, pulling up in the small black Fiat car he used for his arrival in the U.S. capital on Tuesday.

Francis is a frequent critic of the damage caused to the world’s poor and the environment by capitalism’s excesses. The pope also commented on immigration and religious freedom, issues that were on the U.S. political agenda in the run up to the November 2016 presidential election.

Obama, whose plans for a climate change bill were thwarted in Congress early in his presidency, said he shared the pope’s concerns about the environment.

“Holy Father, you remind us that we have a sacred obligation to protect our planet – God’s magnificent gift to us. We support your call to all world leaders to support the communities most vulnerable to a changing climate and to come together to preserve our precious world for future generations,” Obama said.

Francis and Obama held talks in the White House, where they also discussed refugees. Both men see eye-to-eye on climate change and defense of the poor but hold different views on abortion rights and gay marriage.

Francis gave his support to traditional marriage, pointing out that he will travel to Philadelphia later in his six-day visit to the United States for a meeting of Catholics “to celebrate and support the institutions of marriage and the family.”


The leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, Francis sprinkled some stardust in a city that is not unduly impressed with important foreign visitors.

“We love you Pope Francis!” one person shouted as the White House ceremony ended. The crowd of invited guests erupted in cheers. 

Maria Manzo, a 79-year-old Catholic from New Jersey, said hearing the pope on the South Lawn was “just awesome,” but disagreed with his raising of political issues.

“I don’t like to see the Church get involved in stuff like that,” she said. “I think we’ve got enough problems of our own.”

Adoring crowds waving white-and-yellow Vatican flags cheered the pontiff on a parade through Washington streets.

At one point, he had his converted Jeep stop when he saw a baby in the crowd. Francis was handed the five-month-old son of Salvadoran immigrants, and kissed him on the head.

The first Latin American pope, Francis has electrified liberal-leaning U.S. Catholics, Democrats and many non-Catholics with a shift in emphasis toward concern for the poor and immigrants and his appeals to combat climate change. But his criticism of unbridled capitalism has unsettled U.S. conservatives.

While Francis has pushed for a more inclusive Church, appealing to divorced Catholics and gays, he has not changed teaching that opposes abortion and same-sex marriage.

A small group of women protested outside St Matthew’s Cathedral calling on the pope to allow women priests.

“Pope Francis: Ordain women,” read a sign they held.

In an apparent nod to the fierce debate in the United States about illegal immigration, Francis described himself as the son of an immigrant Italian family in Argentina. “I am happy to be a guest in this country, which was largely built by such families,” he said at the White House.

Later on Wednesday, he will canonize 18th century Spanish missionary Friar Junipero Serra over the objections of critics who say that Serra suppressed Native American cultures in California.

Francis will give the first speech by any pope to the U.S. Congress on Thursday, an address to the U.N. General Assembly in New York on Friday and an open-air Mass in Philadelphia where 1.5 million people are expected to attend.

(Additional reporting by Scott Malone, Julia Edwards, Susan Cornwell, Ian Simpson and Roberta Rampton; Writing by Alistair Bell; Editing by Mary Milliken and Grant McCool)

Photo: U.S. President Barack Obama sits with Pope Francis (L) in the Oval Office as the pontiff is welcomed to the White House during a ceremony in Washington September 23, 2015. REUTERS/Tony Gentile

  • BiteMeLiberals

    Article should read, Pope confronts Satan.

    • jmprint

      Yes, he will be confronting them in congress, they go by the title of republicans.

      • BillP

        Bite me is just another of the right wing trolls that can only express their asinine statements in 10 words or less. After that they start repeating themselves.

        • rozyredtoes

          10 words is the attention span of a liberal.

          • BillP

            Not really, it’s all that a toll’s brain can process within an hour. After that the trolls start drooling on their keyboards!

          • rozyredtoes

            Liberals,trolls, Purveyors of fictitious facts studies and droolers all one in the same.

          • BillP

            No just right wing trolls who write on this site are the purveyors of fiction, not realty. Call President Obama “Satan” is just another example of RW troll juvenile rantings.

          • rozyredtoes

            You are wrong again. Both parties are massive purveyors of fiction. Satan is just a bull crap religious term. Both parties are destroying the fabric this country was built on. Obama is pursuing the elitist social anti American policies and the Repub are right their with him. All any of those people want is to stay in power no matter how it is going to affect our way of life. It is no longer a government for the people it is a government for the rich and powerful and all they are doing is buying the votes of the ignorant and the ignorant will be the first to be subjected. Are you one of the ignorant???

      • BiteMeLiberals

        Did the Satan Obama change parties, doubtful, but keep hoping.

    • hicusdicus

      I did not know Satan was a Kenyan Quadroon.

  • Canistercook

    So he was appointed Pope and now he is an ‘expert’.

    • jmprint

      Yes, he is an expert in God’ teachings. And this world would be much better if you started to act for humanly.

      • rozyredtoes

        I am wrong again. I thought Bill O Reilly was the expert on gods teachings or was it Glenn Beck?

    • rozyredtoes

      God the father appointed him in case you did not know. The one thing I do not know is who is god the father and where is mom?

  • Otto Greif

    Curious he’s said nothing about homosexual marriage yet.

    • jmprint

      Yes, he said all individuals should be treated equally, as you would want to be treated. and in the Catholic Church they believe marriage is between a women and man.

      • hicusdicus

        Or a priest and his alter boy.

    • rozyredtoes

      I thought that was what the Vatican was all about.

  • His plane ride produced more pollution than you or I will in our life time, but he thinks the rest of us should change our lifestyles. Another pompous, self-righteous “expert” who contributes nothing but words.

    • latebloomingrandma

      So, he should visit his flocks via clipper ship?

      • rozyredtoes


    • jmprint

      If you are not a religious person, or believe in God it’s fruitless, you wouldn’t understand. You will always be lost.

  • paulyz

    The Pope should run his church, not try to interfere in other nations’ politics. Capitalism has created good lives & prosperity for MILLIONS in our Country, much more than could be said for Latin America or most of the World, where conditions lead to a meager life & poverty, reasons why Millions have been coming to our great Country, & are trying to come. The Pope talks of “ending hostility towards (immigrants),” but forgets the word ILLEGAL immigrants, because the U.S. is certainly very generous with LEGAL Immigration, as well as foreign aid. He also doesn’t mention world overpopulation, which greatly increases world hunger & poverty, while straining the Earth’s natural resources. The Pope should discuss how the U.S. helps so many people, & criticize the many countries that don’t.

    • johninPCFL

      He is also the head of the government of Vatican City, and as such is no less a leader than Putin. He is perfectly suited to offer advice from his role as the head of government.

      • rozyredtoes

        One difference is Putin has nukes and the pope has pedophiles.

        • johninPCFL

          God’s Grace absolves all sins and cures all ills. There are no pedophiles left, are there?

          • rozyredtoes

            They are all gone???? How will the Catholic Church continue to function?

  • Whatmeworry

    of course the author missed the Pope’s comments on ending the baby death mills in this country

  • oldtack

    The bane of Civilization throughout recorded history has been religious radicalism. First were the ancient Jews,they espoused the belief that they were chosen by their God to rule over all so they marched out of Egypt and killed all in their path to subdue the masses and establish their reign in what they proclaimed as “The Holy Land” To enforce this in the religious aspect they had radicals called Sicarri that killed anyone they remotely suspected of actions against the Jewish faith.

    Then came the Christians and the emergence of their radicalism. There was the Catholic Inquisition in the 16th Century when after the invention of the printing press there was a drive to translate the Bible into various languages so the adherents could hear the mass in their language. Before this time Mass was only in Latin and the only ones to have the Scriptures was the Catholic Church. In 1573, to quell unrest and rid the Church of troublemakers Catherine De Medici gave the order and about 100,000
    dissenters were slain,in France. When Pizarro invaded Peru he had a Catholic Priest who presented a Bible to the Inca Ruler and asked him to convert to Christianity . The Ruler cast the Bible on the ground and stated he had his own god. Thus began a systematic slaughter of the Incas. There is a record on file in the Archives in Spain that says “on this day we slew 725 of the Godless heathen in the name of God and the King. Later there were our esteemed Pilgrims that systematic all killed the Pequot Indians in the same manner because they were godless heathens – the same type of radical Christians that,in 1692, hanged women in Salem because they thought they were witches and followers of Satan. They also killed a man for this same belief by pressing him to death with heavy stones.

    Today we are still besieged by the Radical faction of Islam and a new breed called Evangelical Christians who are quick to condemn any thing they see as different from their faith and beliefs.
    Then we have the radicals of the newly formed Tea Party who will deliberately shut down this government to eventually overthrow it because of their warped Ideology.
    They managed to rid Congress of John Boenher at the end of August and their next goal is to rid the Government of all that do not walk lock step with their myopic view of government. Thus will end this Country as a Republic and end any part of Democracy and making this a Nation under Monarchy andoperating under “Christian Theocracy”

    The next 12 months will see the collapse of our Nation. Very similar to what the Nazis did to the German Democratic Republic from 1919 to 1927. That is when the entire Economic system collapsed and when the Nazis began their rise to absolute power in 1933.

    It is going to be an interesting and traumatic 12 months during which time our economy suffers a total collapse and China and others demand reparation for their loans.