WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following statement regarding the visit of Pope Francis to the United States and his address to Congress.
“Pope Francis’ visit to the United States has stirred millions of Catholics and non-Catholics through his presence and messages of humility, generosity, and service. These are universal values with extra meaning when delivered by Pope Francis who embodies genuine warmth, steadfast conviction, and a profound concern for the welfare of humanity.
“Pope Francis’ call to remember the importance of Matthew, 7:12, ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,’ will serve us well. His reverence for Dr. Martin Luther King and his call to continue to fight for equality for all people in all things gave me great hope. It was the right message at the right time for our country.
“His words to the American people, coupled with his Climate Change Encyclical, elevated the importance of the environmental crisis facing our planet, especially on the world’s poorer communities. The Pope teaches that faith in God requires us to become better stewards of our planet, that the environment is a common good to be shared equally amongst all of God’s children. His writings serve as a clarion call to action that we must heed.
“We are all pained and horrified by the images of anguished refugees and migrants fleeing conflict, confronted by water and food insecurity, and who are victims of human rights abuses. Pope Francis is a world leader and moral voice calling upon nations of the world to demonstrate solidarity, act compassionately, and open their doors to the dispossessed. Sympathy must be followed by actions that embrace the downtrodden, while seeking to eradicate the causes of this mass flight. As a nation of immigrants, the Pope rightly appealed to our own sensibilities and history in demonstrating care to families seeking a better life in the United States, including those who are fleeing unrest in their own homelands.
“The Pope’s message of forgiveness and mercy was greatly inspiring. I agree with him that, ‘society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes.’
“Pope Francis played an indispensable role in overcoming decades of mistrust between the United States and Cuba by encouraging dialogue and openness between our nations. A new and more hopeful relationship is now possible thanks to his efforts.
“During this time of international upheaval, it is heartening to see the teachings of Pope Francis resonate so deeply in the United States and beyond. He is a special leader serving Catholics and the global community at a time when his voice resonates so deeply and is needed so intensely.”