Wading into bitter disputes, Pope Francis urged a divided Congress and America on Thursday to welcome immigrants, abolish the death penalty, share the nation’s immense wealth and fight global warming. Lawmakers gave rousing ovations to the leader of the world’s Catholics despite obvious disagreements over some of his pleas.
After he addressed Congress, the first pontiff ever to do so, he underscored his message by traveling directly to a downtown Washington church where he mingled with needy and homeless people, blessed their noontime meal and walked among them as they were eating.
Soon after, he was off to New York, second stop on his three-city first visit to the U.S. He addresses the U.N. on Friday and winds up his visit this weekend in Philadelphia.
At the Capitol, the remarkable sight of the pope speaking in the House chamber seemed to delight lawmakers of all persuasions, though he offered an agenda more to Democrats’ liking. Besides his focus on climate change and immigration, he denounced arms sales and seemed to allude approvingly to the Iran nuclear deal and recent Obama administration actions to open relations with Cuba, done with his urging.
Republicans, too, heard something to like in his references to the sanctity of life and family relations, reminders that even the more open Catholic Church Francis presides over still condemns abortion and gay marriage.
Read More: Cheers from all sides for first papal address to Congress