Pope Francis speaks his mind, and he did that again in his address to a joint meeting of Congress on Thursday morning. But, in the vein of the best Jesuit teachers, Francis praised America, its rich political history and its ideals before delicately delivering some things its political leaders might, well, want to consider working on.
Here are 10 moments that stood out from his address:
1. Embracing John Kerry: The pope did not shake many hands on his way into the chamber, unlike during presidential State of the Union addresses when presidents seem to embrace everyone in the aisle they can find. But Francis did make a point of going over to Secretary of State John Kerry and shaking his hand. That is a major change from 2004, when church officials then called on denying Kerry communion because of his support for abortion rights when he was the Democratic nominee for president. This pope, by the way, has come out in support of the Iran nuclear deal. Kerry, as secretary of state, was a principal negotiator of the deal.
2. A call to rise above polarization.
3. A call for the country to open its arms to immigrants and refugees.
4. A reminder on abortion.
5. Strongly advocating for abolishing the death penalty.
6. Poverty and the necessity of ‘distribution of wealth’: “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. … It goes without saying that part of this great effort is the creation and distribution of wealth.”
7. Business should be about ‘service to the common good’.
8. Calling on Congress to act on climate change.
9. Anti-war message and a call to stop arms trade.
10. The importance of family and marriage: “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 of 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. … 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.”