Morality in America
When studying the founding of the United States, you can’t help but encounter the faith of the nation’s forefathers. Time and again they recognized God’s hand in the shaping of America. You will find Him repeatedly mentioned in their words and documents. And you will find Him having an active, vibrant role in the country’s early history.
Today, God continues His work in America – but it’s in a nation that has clearly lost its moral compass. Every week, “Morality in America” will address the myriad of moral concerns facing the United States and undermining its Godly heritage. After you read, remember to intercede in prayer for America – that this nation will return to the Christian standards that once defined it.
The Pope vs. Congress
Francis to speak to joint meeting of House and Senate
By Diann Noles
“Preach the Gospel, and if necessary use words.”
That’s the motto Pope Francis has adopted as head of the world’s oldest denomination which numbers over one billion world-wide. The Pope comes to Washington, D.C. on Sept. 24, where he will be the first pontiff to ever address a joint meeting of Congress.
Born Jorge Mario Bergoglio in Bueno Aries, Argentina in 1936, Pope Francis was elected by conclave in 2013 after the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. The first Jesuit Pope, he is also the first non-European Pope in over 1,000 years, and is beloved by Catholics as well as many non-Catholics.
Known for his humanitarian efforts in Latin America, Pope Francis refers to the church as a hospital. “The thing the Church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds,” he said. “It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then, we can talk about everything else.”
With his liberal views on several key issues, many are surprised about the invitation from Republican House Speaker John Boehner – an invitation that has Democrats and Republicans alike both excited…and worried. The Pontiff’s recent comments on poverty, global warming and same-sex marriage have some politicians – including several GOP presidential candidates – scrambling to distance themselves.
“The teachings of the Catholic Church don't fit neatly into either the Democratic or the Republican Party,” said Illinois Democratic Representative Dan Lipinski. “And I think that leads oftentimes to a fight on both sides over – now that we have a very popular Pope – who is going to turn that to their political advantage. I hope that we won’t see that.”
Issues the Pope may address include:
Poverty, Capitalism, and Income Inequality
Pope Francis likens western capitalism to a wild animal which “devours everything which stands in the way of increased profits.” He champions the poor and condemns the wealthy saying: “Inequality eventually engenders a violence which recourse to arms cannot and never will be able to resolve.”
Conservatives protested his analysis, with radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh calling it “pure Marxism.” “You’re always stronger in terms of credibility when you stay closer to your church doctrine and church teaching and also what the Catholic Church has been about,” said Alaska Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan. “Many people take a lot of pride, whether you’re Catholic or not, in terms of focus on the poor, focus on helping the most vulnerable.”
“We may well be leaving to coming generations debris, desolation and filth,” the Pope wrote in his papal encyclical, the teaching document of the Catholic Church. In it, he scolded global policymakers for inaction on the environment, pollution, and overfishing the oceans. “The pace of consumption, waste and environmental change has so stretched the planet’s capacity that our contemporary lifestyle, unsustainable as it is, can only precipitate catastrophes, ” he added. Catholic leaders overwhelmingly agree with his position on global warming.
The encyclical also reinforced the church’s longtime teachings on abortion. “How can we genuinely teach the importance of concern for other vulnerable beings, however troublesome or inconvenient they may be, if we fail to protect a human embryo, even when its presence is uncomfortable and creates difficulties?” Pope Francis wrote. This position does not sit well with the more liberal members of Congress, some of whom are members of the Catholic Church.
Although he has reiterated the Catholic position on marriage, the Pope has also signaled his approval of same-sex unions, prompting the Catholic News Service to point out it was “the first time a Pope has indicated even tentative acceptance of civil unions.” When asked if he approves of homosexuality, he says “We must always consider the person.”
Congress will undoubtedly be uncomfortable with the Pope’s speech, regardless of party or religious beliefs. Because Pope Francis is a global religious leader, what he says does carry weight with millions of people, and will make a difference in Congress. “He’s a very different Pope. He’s defined himself in a very different way,” said North Carolina Republican Senator Thom Tillis, another Catholic. “He’s talking about outcomes. We’ve got to work on means.”
This week please pray:
- For all members of Congress to listen to the Pope’s address with compassion and love.
- For Pope Francis as he prepares to address the joint session of Congress. Pray that he speaks under the guidance and the direction of the Holy Spirit and not his own agenda.
- That God will give wisdom and discernment to America’s political and religious leaders.
Diann Noles is a former editor and writer for Christian publications in Tucson, AZ and Portland, OR. She served as Public Relations Director for a major Christian non-profit organization. She and her husband Bill live in Maui, HI and have two sons and four grandchildren.
The following expressions and comments are from our members and do not necessarily represent or reflect the biblical, world views or opinions of the Presidential Prayer Team
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