Pope Francis has now returned to Vatican City, but we remain inspired and moved to action by his words and actions during his visit to the U.S. and the U.N.
As Chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace, I would like to recall some of his powerful international challenges to our nation and world in his own words.
To the U.S. Congress
On Immigrants and Refugees
“We, the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us were once foreigners.”
“Our world is facing a refugee crisis of a magnitude not seen since the Second World War.”
Immigrants “travel north in search of a better life…for their loved ones. Is this not what we want for our own children?”
On Global Poverty
“How much has been done in these first years of the third millennium to raise people out of extreme poverty!”
“Now is the time for…combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature.”
On Environmental Damage
“I call for a courageous and responsible effort to ‘redirect our steps’, and to avert the most serious effects of the environmental deterioration caused by human activity.”
“I am convinced that we can make a difference and I have no doubt that the United States – and this Congress – have an important role to play.”
“Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering…? [S]imply for money: money that is drenched in blood….”
“[I]t is our duty … to stop the arms trade.”
To the U.N. General Assembly
“To enable … real men and women to escape from extreme poverty, we must allow them to be dignified agents of their own destiny.”
Developing nations should not be “subjected to oppressive lending systems which … generate greater poverty, exclusion, and dependence.”
On Environmental Justice
A “‘right of the environment’ does exist … because we human beings are part of the environment.”
“Any harm done to the environment … is harm done to humanity.”
“The poorest are those who suffer most … and suffer unjustly from the abuse of the environment.”
“The ecological crisis, and the large-scale destruction of biodiversity, can threaten the very existence of the human species.”
“I am … confident that the Paris Conference on climatic change will secure fundamental and effective agreements.”
“There is urgent need to work for a world free of nuclear weapons….”
He affirmed the P5+1 Agreement with Iran as “proof of the potential of political good will and of law, exercised with sincerity….”
“[S]top and … prevent further systematic violence against ethnic and religious minorities’ and … protect innocent peoples.”
End “social and economic exclusion, with its baneful consequences: human trafficking, the marketing of human organs and tissues, the sexual exploitation…, slave labour, including prostitution, the drug and weapons trade, terrorism, and international organized crime.”
In his speech to Congress, Pope Francis lifted up the Golden Rule. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Mt 7:12). He noted that “[t]his Rule points us in a clear direction. Let us treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated. Let us seek for others the same possibilities which we seek for ourselves. … In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities. … The Golden Rule also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development.”
In many ways, the Golden Rule sums up his approach to foreign policy and global concerns. “Do unto others.…”
Most Reverend Oscar Cantú is the Bishop of Las Cruces and Chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace.
Learn and reflect on what Pope Francis has said on various occasions on peace and social justice issues such as care for creation, charity, the death penalty, life and dignity, migrants and refugees, and poverty. Read USCCB’s compilation of quotes (pdf) from Pope Francis from throughout his papacy, including his recent trip to the United States.