When Francis Takes the Stand


Free donuts, media coverage, and a selfie station with a celebrity? No, I’m not talking about Ariana Grande’s birthday party. I’m talking about something bigger.

Pope Watch.

On Thursday, September 24, hundreds of Pres girls roused themselves at an unspeakable hour and flocked to the gym to witness their very own slice of history – Pope Francis’ address to Congress. His words were as assertive as they were gentle, earning him multiple standing ovations from Congress and leaving little gray area to be probed.

Among his points were the death penalty, religious wars, and pollution. He condemned all, but his wisdom and understanding made any controversial views seem irreproachable.

For example, as he addressed the pressing issue of immigration, the Argentinian pontiff said, “We must not be taken aback by their numbers, but rather view them as persons.” To emphasize his point, he stressed the fact that the grand majority of Americans are descendants of immigrants themselves.

The pope notably made an effort to reference American history and culture throughout his speech, calling upon heroes such as MLK, Abraham Lincoln and Dorothy Day to shape his arguments. Dubbing our country “a land of dreams,” Pope Francis chose to highlight America’s strengths instead of railing against its weaknesses.

For instance, the pontiff’s focus on the cycle of poverty did not blame any one group of Americans. Instead, he urged all to initiate change. “The fight against poverty and hunger must be fought constantly and on many fronts,” he said.

A few hours after the address, he personified this direction by taking his lunch at a Catholic Charities luncheon, among 300 of the capital’s homeless population, instead of supping with powerful Congress members. His simple fare of boneless chicken and steamed carrots conveyed more than an expensive restaurant ever could.

This is certainly not the first time Pope Francis has embraced a relatively liberal stance, but it is clear that he has always stood by the basic church teachings of love and selflessness, which are the true roots of Catholicism.

Overall, the Presentation community had a very positive reaction to his speech. The explosion of social media posts, coupled with local media outlets’ coverage of the event, created a buzz of excitement that continued long after the address.

Eric Buell, head of the religion department and organizer of the Pope Watch festivities, was quite possibly the most enthusiastic of all. “I hope there’s an energy around Pres girls’ faith,” he said. “I think that’s what most important – if we can respond to what he’s said.”