The Pope and the United States: Faith as Dialogue
Given the difficult relationship between the minority Catholics and majority Protestant population in the United States since its founding, many never expected to witness a pope addressing Congress. But it happened, and his speech did not disappoint: Pope Francis sought to move the narrow political agendas of both Republicans and Democrats to the larger questions facing our times. He did so by referencing the transformative works of four great Americans: Abraham Lincoln, Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King Jr., and Thomas Merton. By pointing out their great contributions in response to the human need of their day, Pope Francis was urging both sides to use their power to adopt policies that would promote the general welfare, by finding God in our neighbor (i.e., “the migrant is a modern-day pilgrim”). The media fascination with which side won is not the right question to pose. Rather, his address needs to be understood in terms of the larger struggles facing humankind.