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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Welcome Pope Francis - benvenuto, bienvenidos


Washington (CNN) Pope Francis immediately dove into the whirlpool of U.S. politics on Wednesday, using his first direct address to the nation to weigh in on deeply divisive issues including climate change, Cuba, and immigration as he was greeted by exuberant crowds packing the streets of Washington.

The pontiff, Pope Francis, lived up to his reputation for blunt talk at a welcoming ceremony at the White House, introducing himself as the son of the kind of "immigrant family" on which America was built -- a clear reference to the controversy swirling around millions of undocumented people in the country.

Speaking in English, the Argentine-born Francis also said he was ready to listen to the "hopes and dreams of the American people" and to offer guidance to those charged with shaping the nation's political future "in fidelity to its founding principles."

And in comments that could antagonize Republicans, Francis endorsed President Barack Obama's efforts on climate change and rebuilding ties with Cuba, after more than half a century of estrangement.

Incredibly, less than a century ago, it would've been difficult (maybe impossible) to believe that the Pope in Rome would be invited to speak to a joint session of the US Congress.  

In fact, when John Kennedy successfully ran for President in 1959-60, the issue of the Pope influencing American public policy was a hot campaign issue. Republicans were saying, at that time, the Pope would unduly influence the Catholic Kennedy.  

Incredulously, today, Pope Francis was welcomed to Washington DC by the US Republican Congress and greeted by the first African American President of the United States. Amazing.

President Barack Obama and Mrs. Michelle Obama greeted the Argentinian Pope who is visiting Washington DC during a state visit. This unlikely set of circumstances can be considered a saintly miracle. Nevertheless, the spiritual dimension notwithstanding, the message Pope Francis made today wasted virtually no time in a welcome narrative of nice flourishes. He spoke directly to the hot button issues of immigration and climate change.  

Pope Francis and President Obama agree about two important issues. Both support immigration reform and the welcome of immigrants to America. Likewise, they believe climate change, global warming or the scientific term of the day for melting polar ice caps, is a  problem for the safety of our planet "home earth".  

Who knew, a century ago, that a Roman Catholic Pope in Rome would be invited to speak to the American people about public policies? Moreover, Pope Francis was welcomed by an African American President, with his beautiful wife and family at his side.  

Here is some of what the Pope said:

"....it seems clear to me," (said Pope Francis) "...that climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation. When it comes to the care of our 'common home', we are living at a critical moment of history. We still have time to make the changes needed to bring about “a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change”.

Faithful Christians are believers in miracles. Roman Catholics, particularly, are taught that divine intervention can be the result of a person's sanctity and prayer.  

I'm a believer that Pope Francis has brought a miracle to Washington DC. In fact, he accepted an invitation by a Republican Congress to meet an African American President and exert a spiritual influence with many elected politicians who will not agree with his message about Cuba, immigration reform (path to citizenship) or climate change.

Perhaps, Pope Francis has already performed the first miracle on his inevitable rise to the spiritual realm of sainthood.

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