Pope Francis has accepted an invitation from Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) to address a joint session of Congress on Sept. 24 during his planned trip to the U.S. later this year. The new Pope’s first U.S. visit was announced last November in conjunction with the Eighth World Meeting of Families to be held in Philadelphia Sept. 22-27. The meeting will be hosted by Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia.
It has yet to be announced exactly what the Pope’s Congressional address will specifically entail but Pope Francis has made many of his chief concerns known—namely, what he has described as the “dehumanizing effects of global capitalism” and the important role played by the Church in aiding the weak. In his first Apostolic Exhortation, Pope Francis writes:
Just as the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say “thou shalt not” to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality.
In a short interview with Franklin County’s Rev. Roger L. Charbonneau, we asked if his Parishioners have any hopes for the Pope address. Fr. Charbonneau said, “I’m sure he knows just what to say” and hopes the Pope will “implore our Congress to have a greater respect for human life.” St. John’s Parishioners are also answering the Papal call for missionary spirituality during Lent with a Catholic Relief collection. Catholic Relief offers aid to poor people all over the world.
By Brielle King