Thursday, March 22 , 2018, 5:16 am | Mostly Cloudy 59º


Lois Capps: Pope Francis, a Beacon of Hope for the American People

Earlier this week, the grounds of the United States Capitol were alive with excitement as thousands awaited the arrival of Pope Francis for his historic address to a joint session of Congress.

While I have had the honor of attending numerous addresses to Congress over the years by U.S. presidents, foreign heads of state and other dignitaries, I cannot recall a more widely anticipated or unifying address as the one offered by Pope Francis.   

It is no secret that Washington has been stricken by an increasingly partisan divide in recent years. Often times, an address before Congress is met by cheers on one half of the chamber and exhortations of dissatisfaction by the other.

This day was noticeably different. The entire hall was filled with a sense of unanimity and possibility.

In what he would continually refer to as a dialogue, Pope Francis said, “I would like not only to address you, but through you, the entire people of the United States.” 

This comes at a time when too many in our society often feel left out or forgotten. His message of caring for all of humanity is one that transcends beyond an individual religious creed or denomination.

Pope Francis challenged each of us to strive, “to summon the courage and the intelligence to resolve today’s many geopolitical and economic crises,” and the challenges before us are certainly formidable.

We are facing the greatest refugee crisis since World War II, millions are locked in cycles of poverty, and the adverse effects of climate change are constantly on the rise.

Overcoming these challenges will not be easy. After all, building consensus and legislating are no easy task, but they are both possible and necessary.

Pope Francis reminded us that “the challenges facing us today call for a renewal of that spirit of cooperation, which has accomplished so much good throughout the history of the United States.”

We must rise to this calling.

As the Pope made his way to exit the chamber, I was touched by the sense of optimism in the room. His message was both plainly delivered and profound. It was simple, yet direct, in both its style and content.

He encouraged each of us to seek out the humanity in one another, while trying our best to respond to one another’s situation, and he reminded us that as a nation, we are at our best when we strive to embody the ideals he shared: serving others selflessly, keeping the least fortunate among us at the forefront of our decisions and making the world a better place for future generations.

I can only hope that his message of cooperation stays with me and with each of us. 

Let us not forget that we are bound together so much more by that which unites us and strengthens us than by that which divides and separates us.

I believe this is what makes us who and what we are as Americans, a beacon of hope and inspiration for each other and for the world.

— Lois Capps is the U.S. Representative for California's 24th congressional district, serving in Congress since 1998.

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