Faith groups call on Pope to remain resolute in commitment to poor, planet during U.S. visit

September 22, 2015

NEW YORK – As the leader of more than 1 billion Roman Catholics worldwide visits the U.S. and addresses a joint session of the U.S. Congress on September 24., a group of faith-based agencies is asking Pope Francis to speak boldly about the moral mandate to improve the lives of the poor and ensuring care for the Earth.

In July, 38 U.S. national religious leaders including the Rev. John L. McCullough, CWS President and CEO, wrote to Pope Francis telling the Pontiff “We eagerly anticipate your September visit to our nation’s capital and your address to our national Congress.” The leaders – representing Christian, Jewish Muslim and Hindu faiths — encouraged the Pope that “Our nation needs to hear your words of hope and challenge.”

Following this letter, the religious leaders sent a letter to Congress on September 16 urging “members of Congress – and all of us — to listen with open minds and hearts to [Pope Francis’] words and to work together, even across great differences, for the common good.”

Pope Francis, whose integrity and commitment to marginalized people has captivated people around the globe, has challenged the global community to uphold a dignified life and ensure social justice for those who are impoverished or rejected. This call and his recent pleas on behalf of Earth, “our common home,” come from Francis’ own deep faith and years of experience among people struggling to survive.

“As a humanitarian agency, we share Pope Francis’ commitment to improving the lives of those who wrestle with abject poverty, displacement and the effects of a changing climate,” Rev. McCullough said. “We hope the Holy Father will be able to speak persuasively to all Americans and especially those who – because of the current political climate and election cycle – hold different values.”

Rev. McCullough will be on hand on the South Lawn of the White House to participate in a welcoming ceremony as President Obama welcomes Pope Francis to the United States.

“CWS joins with our member denominations, Catholic colleagues and all people of goodwill in welcoming this extraordinary Christian leader. We hope that his prophetic concern for people in poverty and for the earth will strengthen the best of our country’s moral vision and help elevate its political discourse,” Rev. McCullough said.