Congressmen Proud To Be Part of Historic Papal Address

October 1, 2015
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By Muriel J. Smith

WASHINGTON – Both Congressmen representing the Two River Area expressed joy and honor at being in the House of Representatives when Pope Francis became the first pope to address a joint meeting of Congress.

Congressmen Frank Pallone and Chris Smith had also secured passes for some of their constituents who requested to be in the nation’s Capitol for the address, Pallone calling it a privilege to provide tickets to hear the Pope’s speech from the West Lawn of the Capitol. Pallone said representatives from no fewer than nine of the municipalities within the 6th district which he serves were able to travel to Washington for the historic opportunity.

Smith, who represents the 4th district and is Roman Catholic, termed Pope Francis’ address “powerful … inviting us to selfless service, love, reconciliation and dialogue.”

The Holy Father quoted Jesus’ Golden Rule, of “do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” Smith said, “compelling us to protect and defend human life at every stage of development, including the weakest and most vulnerable – from unborn children to refugees.” He said that as the Pope pointed to the relief of Moses in the House he reminded lawmakers, “You are asked to protect, by means of the law, the image and likeness fashioned by God on every human face.” Ominously, Smith said, “he stressed that the family is threatened, perhaps as never before, and calls us to recognize the “richness and beauty of family life.”

Underscoring the present day risk to religious freedom in America – and worldwide – the Pope noted the importance of a voice of faith continuing to be heard. Importantly, the Pontiff categorically condemned violence in all of its manifestations, including such acts committed in the name of religion.

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And as author of America’s landmark anti-human trafficking law – the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, Smith said he was encouraged by the Pontiff ’s call to “eliminate new global forms of slavery” – a cause he has made a core part of his Pontificate.

Smith also cited the Pope’s environmental encyclical released earlier this year in which Francis reminds us that “combined with our concern with the environment – human beings possess a particular dignity above all creatures that “inculcates esteem for each person and respect or others.”
Pallone said it was a great honor to be in the presence of the Pope at a historic moment. The Congressman added, “Rarely has the House of Representatives more desperately been in need of such a unifying voice.”

“From his call for courageous action to combat poverty and protect the environment on moral terms, to his steadfast commitment to acceptances of immigrants, there are many reasons to admire Pope France and heed his message, “Pallone continued. “It is my hope and belief that his message of equality, tolerance, human dignity, world peace and rejecting a mindset of hostility resonated and served as an inspiration not just to us in Congress, but or others.”
 Pallone said it was a great honor to be in the presence of the Pope at a historic moment. The Congressman added, “Rarely has the House of Representatives more desperately been in need of such a unifying voice.”

“From his call for courageous action to combat poverty and protect the environment on moral terms, to his steadfast commitment to acceptances of immigrants, there are many reasons to admire Pope France and heed his message,” Pallone continued. “It is my hope and belief that his message of equality, tolerance, human dignity, world peace and rejecting a mindset of hostility resonated and served as an inspiration not just to us in Congress, but for the entire country.”

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