Pope Francis gets glowing reviews from area members of Congress
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Pope Francis took on politics Thursday and made history as the first pope to address a joint session of Congress.
Even with a strong message to lawmakers, he's getting glowing reviews. "Inspiring" and "brilliant" are some of the words local members of Congress used to describe what they saw and heard.
Congressman John Yarmuth (D-District 3 KY) says the atmosphere as the Pope entered the House chamber was much different than usual.
“It was stirring to be in that chamber and there was a lot of good will in that chamber today, and that's not always the case,” said Yarmuth.
The Pope did not shy away from hot-button issues from abortion to the death penalty -- to climate change and immigration.
"We, the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us were once foreigners," said the pontiff.
But Yarmuth says the pope delivered the message in such a way as to neither offend nor lecture Congress.
“He reminded us in a very subtle way what the job of a politician was, and what politics were about. And that politics is all about finding common good. And so in a way, again, he lectured us without lecturing us,” said Yarmuth.
Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly (D-IN) believes the Pope was unconcerned about the politics of the speech.
“He has a message of inclusion, of faith. That's the message he delivers, and so if it gores somebody's ox, so be it, and if it doesn't, so be it,” he said.
On the Senate floor, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) also tried to downplay any lasting political impact.
“Many will interpret his words in many ways. The media certainly has. But we can also hear him as simply expressing his faith. And we all appreciate his closing remarks, ‘God bless America,’” said McConnell.
But Yarmuth says there is one lasting message from the Pope's appearance.
“I would say that the most important takeaway is that we're all in this together,” he said.
One high profile member of Congress surprisingly silent, so far, is Sen. Rand Paul, who, of course, is also running for President.
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