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Pope Francis' speech leaves a deep personal mark on members of Congress

2015-09-30

The initial coverage of Pope Francis' speech to Congress focused on the Pope's comments about political issues: the death penalty, abortion, climate change, and much more. But it's also clear that the Pope left a deep impression on the lawmakers personally.

Perhaps no line from the Pope's speech received more applause than when he reminded his audience of the Golden Rule.

POPE FRANCIS
"We need to avoid a common temptation nowadays: to discard whatever proves troublesome. Let us remember the Golden Rule: 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.'”

The day after his visit, House Speaker John Boenher, a Catholic, announced he would resign in October. He spoke about the Pope during his first public remarks about the resignation.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER
SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE
"Just yesterday we witnessed the awesome sight of Pope Francis addressing the greatest legislative body in the world. And I hope we will heed his call to live by the Golden Rule.”

Boehner wasn't the only member of Congress who was personally moved.

In an interview with Rome Reports, Congressman Ruben Gallego said he had been excited about Pope Francis since his election was first announced. He said the speech helped him "reassess.”

REP. RUBEN GALLEGO
Arizona's 7th District
"It really made me start looking at how not only do I treat other people when it comes to policy, but also how do I treat people, period, in my personal relationships. And that challenge is something that we should all remember.”

Gallego suggested that the Pope's message about selflessness may have had led to Boehner's decision to announce his resignation. 

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is a Catholic who leads Gallego's party in the House. She praised the Pope's message. But she also said in a statement that the visit was a "profound joy for my family.”

Some in Congress might have even felt too strong of a connection to the Pope. One Catholic member made headlines after he admitted to taking the glass the Pope drank from, and drinking from it himself.


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