Pope Francis spoke to a joint session of Congress this morning and apparently regaled that august body of professional politicians with a laundry list of things they didn't want to hear. Being somewhat disconnected from the world, I didn't see or hear the remarks of the Pontiff as they were happening, but I have since read the reviews on various internet news sites.
It sounds like the Papal speech may have been a disappointment to the dark red (and orange) Republicans who control Congress. Apparently Pope Francis failed to flog the conservative stalking horses of abortion and gay marriage, but did support that importance of "life" by speaking against the death penalty. He lamented the unfairness of economic inequality, called for action to address the coming catastrophe of climate change, decried discrimination, and even proposed a solution for the refugee crisis - to employ the "golden rule."
Pope Francis has been in charge of the Catholic Church long enough now that his views on the important topics of the day are fairly well known. He leads with his humanity, a practice that more often than not puts him at odds with the world's political and business classes - and with elected bodies that primarily serve the needs of the rich.
Most members of Congress knew going into the event today that they would not be enthralled with the Pope's message of preserving the planet and lifting up the poor and downtrodden. That's not what this Congress is about. The man addressing them might be one of the most important religious figures on the planet, the heir to the throne of St. Peter, but he was no Benny Netanyahu. Some put up predictable scowls for the cameras when certain points were made, but for the most part the group was polite and attentive.
Interestingly, the United States Supreme Court, itself a basically Catholic institution (with six of the nine justices being Catholic and the other three Jewish) was not well represented. Five justices skipped the event altogether. The three Catholic justices not in attendance were all conservative firebrands: Alito, Scalia, and Thomas.
All of the Pope's talking points to Congress were anticipated - with no major surprises - a cake served plain. The frosting came after the speech when instead of going to a fine luncheon packed with important national dignitaries and their families, the Pope instead left the Capitol Building to go out on the streets and commune with the poor.
Pope Francis was, for today at least, Christ's man in Washington, D.C.