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Pope Francis: 5 themes from his speech to U.S. Congress

Pope Francis touched on immigration, the death penality, abortion, the environment and arms sales as he became the first pontiff to address a joint session of the U.S. Congress

Francis on Thursday became 1st Pope to speak to joint session

WATCH: Pope addresses U.S. Congress

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6 years ago
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Highlights from speech range from environment to immigration and refugees 3:32

Pope Francis on Thursday became the first Pope to speak to a joint session of the U.S. Congress. 

Here are some of the highlights from his speech in Washington:

1. Immigration

At a time when migrants and refugees are streaming into Europe, and illegal migration is a U.S. election issue, immigration featured highly in the Pope's address.

"We must not be taken aback by their numbers, but rather view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories, trying to respond as best we can to their situation."

2. Abortion

The Pope touched only briefly on the issue of abortion. He reminded U.S. politicians of the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

"The Golden Rule also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development."

3. The death penalty

Francis said that conviction to defend human life has led him since the beginning of his ministry to advocate for the end 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."

4. The environment 

Pope Francis has advocated against damage to the environment. Speaking to U.S. politicians, he said he has called for an effort "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."

5. Arms sales

Francis stressed that being in the service of dialogue and peace means being determined to minimize and eventually end armed conflict around the world.

"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."

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