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Reflecting on Pope Francis's Congressional Address

Sep 25, 2015
EC from DC

Thursday was one of the most memorable days in my life. Having the opportunity to see Pope Francis close up was a bulky blessing. I sat in the House Chamber thinking about the impactful style of leadership this pontiff brings to the world.

Yes, I am an ordained United Methodist preacher and that did not, in any way, inhibit my respect for this pope. I listened to his words and the commonalities in our faith traditions moved me more than the differences distress me.

Pope Francis traversed a wide range of critical topics, including climate change, immigration, and gun control. I especially focused in on his references to the Golden Rule, civility, and that history will judge us for our actions. These are his words:

Let us remember the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" (Mt 7:12).

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.

It is my sincere hope that the words of the Holy Father will not fall on deaf ears, and that we as Members of Congress will use this as a defining moment in our time as public servants. We have a great responsibility to provide for the people, as he said to us yesterday, “All political activity must serve and promote the good of the human person and be based on respect for his or her dignity.”

As we look forward into the coming days and weeks, we have a responsibility to provide for the common good and heed the words of the pope. I will always consider it one of the many great honors of my life that I had the opportunity to learn from him yesterday. May God bless him and the United States of America!


Emanuel Cleaver, II
Member of Congress