The 10 Most Quotable Excerpts from Pope Francis’ Historic Speech to Congress

On Thursday, Pope Francis made history by becoming the first Pope to speak before a joint session of the United States Congress.

Francis delivered a powerful speech on topics ranging from polarization and fundamentalism to wealth inequality and climate change. We put together a brief list with 10 of our favorite excerpts from his address — check them out below!

1. On the fundamental role of government…

“A political society endures when it seeks, as a vocation, to satisfy common needs by stimulating the growth of all its members, especially those in situations of greater vulnerability or risk. Legislative activity is always based on care for the people.”

2. Speaking about the legacy of Abraham Lincoln…

“Building a future of freedom requires love of the common good and cooperation in a spirit of subsidiarity and solidarity.”

3. On combatting fundamentalism in all its forms…

“We must be especially attentive to every type of fundamentalism, whether religious or of any other kind. A delicate balance is required to combat violence perpetrated in the name of a religion, an ideology or an economic system, while also safeguarding religious freedom, intellectual freedom and individual freedoms.”

4. On combatting polarization and internal conflict…

“We know that in the attempt to be freed of the enemy without, we can be tempted to feed the enemy within. To imitate the hatred and violence of tyrants and murderers is the best way to take their place.”

5. On resolving the geopolitical and economic crises facing the world today…

“Even in the developed world, the effects of unjust structures and actions are all too apparent. Our efforts must aim at restoring hope, righting wrongs, maintaining commitments, and thus promoting the well-being of individuals and of peoples. We must move forward together, as one, in a renewed spirit of fraternity and solidarity, cooperating generously for the common good.”

6. A caution against letting money control politics…

“All political activity must serve and promote the good of the human person and be based on respect for his or her dignity… If politics must truly be at the service of the human person, it follows that it cannot be a slave to the economy and finance. Politics is, instead, an expression of our compelling need to live as one, in order to build as one the greatest common good: that of a community which sacrifices particular interests in order to share, in justice and peace, its goods, its interests, its social life.”

7. On welcoming immigrants with empathy and compassion…

“In recent centuries, millions of people came to this land to pursue their dream of building a future in freedom. We, the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us were once foreigners. I say this to you as the son of immigrants, knowing that so many of you are also descended from immigrants.”

8. On the value of life and rehabilitation…

“The Golden Rule also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development. This conviction has led me, from the beginning of my ministry, to advocate at different levels for the global abolition of the death penalty. I am convinced that this way is the best, since every life is sacred, every human person is endowed with an inalienable dignity, and society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes.”

9. On protecting the environment, even as we continue to advance technologically…

“Now is the time for courageous actions and strategies, aimed at implementing a culture of care and an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature. We have the freedom needed to limit and direct technology; to devise intelligent ways of developing and limiting our power; and to put technology at the service of another type of progress, one which is healthier, more human, more social, more integral.”

10. On ending armed conflicts by tackling the weapons trade…

“Being at the service of dialogue and peace also means being truly determined to minimize and, in the long term, to end the many armed conflicts throughout our world. Here we have to ask ourselves: Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society? Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood. In the face of this shameful and culpable silence, it is our duty to confront the problem and to stop the arms trade.”

You can read a full transcript of the Pope’s address to Congress here.

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