Pope Francis delivered a boffo speech to the United Nations yesterday. This speech differed in tone from the one he gave when he addressed the joint session of Congress the day before. But it did not differ in meaning.
I wrote a post about this for the National Catholic Register.
Here’s part of what I said:
Pope Francis addressed the United Nations today.
He gave a speech that was entirely consistent with the address he gave the Joint Session of the United States Congress yesterday. It was also entirely different.
What do I mean by that?
Pope Francis is, first of all, a priest. He’s a pastor of souls. When he spoke to Congress, it was obvious that he was on a mission of pastoral mercy. He was not just addressing the members of Congress and other dignitaries in front of him; he was ministering to them.
Thus, his speech to the joint session was also a powerful pastoral intervention. He delivered a passionately pro-life speech that spoke of life from conception to natural death; that admonished us to care for our home, the Earth, and which repeatedly called for governance on behalf of the common good.
At root of all this was a deep pastoral message to the broken and wounded souls in that room. Pope Francis saw through the facade of power and puffery into their hearts of rage and self-righteousness. He walked into that room, aware of the imploding dysfunction that threatens to rattle our democracy, of the hardness of heart that blinds those who work there to everything but partisan loyalty.
I’m going to write in more detail about this in the future because what he said touched me to the core. As someone who has lived most of my adult life in the sphere of politics and who has held office for 18 years, it almost brought me to tears. Pope Francis did not see these people, as other usually do, as things with power. He saw them as what they are: Desperately wounded people who are afraid to do the right thing, even when they know what it is.
His address to the United Nations, even though it said essentially the same things about issues, was an entirely different animal. Pope Francis did not speak to the United Nations as a pastor so much as an advocate for humanity, standing before a tribunal of world leaders.