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Thursday, October 27, 2016

By Philip Pullella and Scott Malone

WASHINGTON (Reuters) — Fresh off his meeting with President Barack Obama, Pope Francis delivers a speech on Thursday to a U.S. Congress led by Republicans who have opposed Obama on issues of importance to the pontiff including climate change and immigration.

Francis, who arrived Tuesday in Washington on a U.S. trip that also will take him to New York and Philadelphia, is set to become the first pope to address a joint meeting of the Senate and House of Representatives at 9:20 a.m. EDT.

The pope is expected to address climate change as well as the need to help migrants fleeing wars, international efforts to resolve conflicts, the U.S. role in helping poorer nations, religious freedom and the “right to life” issues of abortion and euthanasia.

The pope met privately with Obama at the White House on Tuesday, called the Democratic president’s efforts against air pollution “encouraging” and said climate change is a problem the world can no longer leave to future generations to address.

In the first papal encyclical dedicated to the environment, Francis in June called for “decisive action” to stop environmental degradation and global warming, squarely backing scientists who say it is mostly man-made.

Global warming is blamed by almost all experts on man-made greenhouse gas emissions, although many U.S. Republicans including some of those running for president in 2016 have heaped doubt on that view.

In an example of Republican wariness of the pope’s climate change stance, a conservative Republican U.S. congressman, Paul Gosar of Arizona, has said he will boycott the address over the pope’s views on climate change.

Gosar said on Wednesday he did not think the pope should “prioritize climate change over speaking out against religious intolerance happening across the world.”

In an illustration of the views of some U.S. conservatives, Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said that instead of focusing on the environment, Francis should focus more upon stopping abortion and protecting religious liberty.

Huckabee has embraced a local government official in Kentucky who was jailed after defying a court order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in the aftermath of a Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage nationwide.

“I’m hopeful the pope will encourage us to stop the killing of one million American babies each year and end the criminalization of Christianity in this country, which Obama can control, instead of global weather patterns, which Obama cannot,” Huckabee said.


At a time when leading Republicans are advocating building a wall to stop illegal immigrants from Latin America cross into the United States from Mexico, the pope also said he was the “son of an immigrant family” and that America was “largely built by such families.”

Republicans have sought to block Obama’s actions on immigration, including a November order lifting the threat of deportation for millions of illegal immigrants.

Several 2016 U.S. presidential candidates, including Republicans Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz and Ben Carson, as well as Democrat Bernie Sanders are due to attend the pope’s speech.

Senator John Thune, a member of Senate Republican leadership, said there may be differences of opinion with the pope but that lawmakers will try to show him utmost respect.

Thune said that while U.S. lawmakers can learn about mercy, compassion and forgiveness from the pope, “there are also things that we hope he can take away from visiting our country for the first time” such as “recognizing that free enterprise is the greatest anti-poverty force that the world has ever seen.”

The pope’s criticism of unbridled capitalism has unsettled many U.S. conservatives.

After addressing Congress, Francis is due to speak to a group of 200 people served by the Catholic Charities group. Members of the largely low-income, immigrant group receive medical or mental health care through the Church-sponsored program.

Following that, the pope is set to go to Joint Base Andrews in Maryland to fly to New York, where he will attend evening prayer services at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

(Additional reporting by Susan Cornwell, Jeff Mason, Ian Simpson and Alana Wise; Writing by Will Dunham; Editing by Ken Wills)

Pope Francis waves from the popemobile during a papal parade in Washington September 23, 2015. REUTERS/Alex Brandon/Pool

  • halfwayin

    I would ask the pope, “Out of the 4,200 religions in the world, how does one know which one is the right one?”

  • Daniel Jones

    Free enterprise.. millions of fast food wage slaves and suffering people in the 19 states that refuse to expand Medicare would disagree with you, you brain dead mouth-breather

  • Dave Francis


    Its not for the
    Congress to embrace illegal aliens, its must be for the American People to

    You really
    have to ask these questions of Carly Fiorina’, who has been rising in the polls? Is she going to build the Southern
    enforcement wall, that is demanded by the majority of the voters in completing
    the maximum to hold back the illegal alien invasion? Is this lady going to
    pander to the illegal immigrants as Jeb Bush, while the numbers of illegal
    aliens are beginning to rise, and under Obama’s reckless laws the cost to feed,
    house and health care is growing? To reiterate my previous commentaries, America has become a
    country, where the poverty of the world is arriving here and not being turned
    away. Its absolute insanity, when we have 90 million Americans and legal
    residents who are in either unemployed/ part time work or just given up?

    I caught the Pontiffs address to Congress about foreign nationals who
    arrive here, without an invitation from the government and that we should
    welcome them? Well sorry, we have 90 million Americans out of work and even
    more citizens and lawful residents living in poverty and we should financially
    support even more? None of those Oval office seekers seems either remain quiet
    on the subject, or think we are going to enable some form of pacifying policy
    as Bush–it cannot happen and should not? Obama has already defied the Constitution,
    by allowing hundreds of thousands or even millions to come here with little
    enforcement. Only Trump has fully confronted this paramount issue, whereas others
    like Carly and the others have limited
    ideas to stop the ghastly situation?

    Carly seems to be a tough lady, but
    she is going to be thrown into the bear pit of a corrupt Washington, and
    is she strong enough herself in not floundering under the temptation of the
    lobbyists, incessantly banging on the President, or Vice Presidents door to get
    special privileges as prior to being this nations leader; they were pushing
    financial incentives into her campaign and they will want their Pound of Flesh
    (Shakespeare’s quote from the Merchant of Venice) in Act 4, scene 1, 304–307. She is a corporate
    person as Trump, but unlike the ‘Donald’ she has not pledged in refusing any
    large donor amounts from aggressive lobbyists? Cheap labor is what business
    executives demand from their groveling puppets in Congress. Can this seemingly
    hard lady adopt the MANDATORY E-VERIFY in bringing to an abrupt halt, illegal
    aliens stealing jobs from Americans and lawful residents or take their illegal
    activity to a prison cell? To me, that’s what they deserve, specifically when
    an American must train a foreigner, then be handed a ‘pink slip’?

    Madam Florina is strong, and maybe she can stand against the immoral
    barrage, but I am not convinced? My trust is still in Donald Trump; he didn’t
    become a billionaire from being a ‘weenie’s as the hierarchy in the Republican
    party, who have given in to the demands of potentate Obama and not stood their
    ground. So will she–will Carly renegotiate the poorly designed Free-Trade
    agreements with foreign countries that gave us–absolutely NOTHING! The treaties negotiated with Mexico, especially Mexico has cost our
    nation, figures of dollars that cannot even be comprehended while the giant
    corporations that vanished over there bring their cars back, free of custom
    tariffs. Same with China and Japan and what the
    largest consumer nation in the world, inferior goods from China and millions of
    cars and not paying any taxes. What does America get from these
    imported goods–again NOTHING, but loss of jobs? We just pay for the products,
    while thousands of companies, go to many
    other countries and the stocks and share go through the roof profiting the

    Will Fiorina rebuild our reduced armed services, or cut
    the budgets as our lousy political inept parties. Since the
    inception of the Obama administration our military preparedness has been
    drained of thousands of troops, ordinance technology as if we were living in a
    period of peace. One of Obama’s first order was to remove new missiles to
    safeguard, prior Soviet satellite countries from Putin’s new Russia. We are in the
    worst state of affairs since the last world war?

    These are just a few choice issues, that need immediate attention and
    hope that Trump is accepted by the voters and not those whose adherence is to those who would undermine our bill of
    rights and constitution. Not the reprobates in Congress who sell their votes
    for unclean dollars to the wealthy. I think somehow Speaker John Boehner is
    tied to the Obama administration who all but crawl to the mans kingly feet.

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