Pope Francis made an unprecedented visit this morning to address a joint meeting of Congress—a first ever for a pontiff. It marks a definitive turning point in the United States, which has signaled its change from a largely Protestant nation that has always distrusted the influence of the Vatican to openly accepting the supreme Catholic leader into their very halls of power.
“Politically impossible” is how many described this unusual speech that dwelled on a large number of political and social issues. The pope wove pointed references to the United States throughout his 51-minute speech, which was continually interrupted with applause and ended with a standing ovation from the nation’s leaders. One congressman boycotted the engagement.
Speaking quietly in English, the pope encouraged the divided house to work together to bring about legislation that would help immigrants and the marginalized in society. He called for the end of the death penalty, the end of arms trading, and the dangers of religious extremism. He spoke against abortion and indirectly referred to the “fundamental relationships” that “are being called into question, as is the very basis of marriage and the family.” He ended with a focus on climate change. In many ways, he is seeking a new global order that blurs geographic and political boundries.
Regardless, large crowds continue to be awed by Pope Francis. Many stood for hours to merely catch a glimpse of him. One immigrant from Argentina, the pope’s homeland, spoke highly of Francis, saying, “Whatever he will say, I agree with him.”
Could it be that this politically astute pope is making more than history? Are we witnessing events of an apocalyptic proportion? What does the Bible say about how and why everything is happening? The Lord has not left us to wonder.