Something a little different from the good people at the Congressional Research Service: Pope Francis and Selected Global Issues: Background for Papal Address to Congress by Clare Ribando Seelke, Shawn Reese, Jacob R. Straus, James D. Werner, Derek E. Mix, and Liana W. Rosen
Pope Francis (born Jorge Mario Bergoglio) assumed the papacy on March 13, 2013, following the surprise resignation of Pope Benedict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger), who had served as pope since the death of St. Pope John Paul II (Karol Józef Wojtyła) in 2005. The pope, respectfully referred to as “Your Holiness,” serves as head of the Holy See (diocese) of Rome and as the leader of the world’s roughly 1.2 billion Catholics. He is the first pope elected from Latin America, the first Jesuit pope (an order of priests founded by Ignatius Loyola), and the first pope in recent times who spent much of his career serving as a pastor in poor areas far from Rome. Pope Francis has become a popular global leader who has focused attention on poverty and environmental issues, among others.
Following a September 19-22 visit to Cuba, Pope Francis is scheduled to visit the United States from September 22-27. His visit will begin in Washington, DC, and include a visit to the White House, a public mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, and an address to Congress. Speaker of the House John Boehner invited Pope Francis to address a joint meeting of Congress based on his position as head of state of the Holy See (an international entity analogous to a sovereign state) and his “social teachings...that have prompted careful reflection and vigorous dialogue.” On September 24, 2015, Pope Francis will become the first pope to address a joint congressional session.
Pope Francis then plans to travel to New York to address the U.N. General Assembly on September 25; he may address environmental and social justice concerns raised in his June 2015 encyclical, Laudato Si (Praise be to you). The visit is set to conclude in Philadelphia with the World Meeting of Families, a gathering of Catholics to discuss social issues. It remains to be seen whether or how the pope may address sensitive social issues such as how the Church should minister to divorced Catholics. Pope Francis’ schedule also includes planned visits with the homeless, immigrants, and prisoners to emphasize his vision of how the Catholic Church should serve the marginalized.
Congress has expressed interest in Pope Francis throughout his papacy. Bipartisan legislation introduced during the 113th Congress (H.Res. 15), which congratulated Pope Francis on his “historic election” and “inspirational actions,” has been re-introduced to recognize his work to promote peace and support the poor. Other legislation has been introduced to laud his role in helping secure the release of Alan Gross, a U.S. contractor imprisoned in Cuba, and in improving U.S.-Cuban relations (S.Res. 26) and to affirm his writing on environmental issues (S.Res. 244). None of that legislation has been enacted.
This report provides Members of Congress with background information on Pope Francis and a summary of a few selected global issues of congressional interest that have figured prominently on his agenda. The background section on Pope Francis includes a biographical sketch of his life as Jorge Mario Bergoglio, followed by a brief overview of his papacy thus far. The report then identifies some—but not all—of the global issues of concern to Pope Francis. Those include environmental stewardship, poverty and inequality, peace and diplomacy, and human trafficking. The report includes one appendix addressing logistical and security concerns surrounding the papal visit and another summarizing the aforementioned encyclical, Laudato Si. It also refers readers to additional sources of information analyzing the extent to which Pope Francis has addressed issues within the Catholic Church, including corruption within the Vatican and the ongoing issue of sexual assault/exploitation by some priests.
Enjoy! The Baltimore Catechism this ain't!
"Never have we so hurt and mistreated our common home as we have in the last 200 years." - Pope Francis