WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Pope Francis delivered an historic message to Congress Thursday, touching on issues like immigration, the Golden Rule and family. Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR) said shortly after the speech, "It was a real honor to be on the escort committee for the Pope's visit to the U.S. House to speak to a joint session of Congress. I'm here on the balcony where he came out after the speech and gave a blessing to the audience. I thought his remarks were challenging and uplifting." Rep. Walden added, "Clearly he's a man of the people who speaks his mind. I think he calls on all of us to be better citizens and better human beings and really look after those who are less fortunate. It was just an historic day in Washington and I think for all of America."
Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) was there as well, and said in a statement, "Pope Francis powerfully reminded us all of our true purpose as public servants: that we are 'called to defend and preserve the dignity of our fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good.' I especially thank the Pope for his unwavering belief that we can and we should do more to protect our communities from global warming and to take on the scourge of poverty here in the United States."
Deschutes County Commissioner Tammy Baney was among the 50,000 people outside the Capitol to watch Pope Francis on a big screen television. She received tickets from Congressman Walden's office. She tells KBND News it was like nothing she's ever seen. "I've never been in a large crowd so passionate about seeing an individual in my life. There was just a lot of peace in the crowd. With that many people, you could certainly have issues come up, as people are kind of walking almost on top of each other. There was just a sense of community in the crowd."
She says his address was inspirational. "I thought his message was one of inclusivity. He really talked about, in essence, how we are one community and to care for one another as you would for your own child. It was very powerful. He certainly talked about political issues, as well; but I think if you put it in the frame of mind that he's thinking of the essence of people not the essence of politics, the message is a powerful one." Baney adds, "When I was a child, I was raised Catholic, and it was not as inclusive as I find myself today. This Pope is one that brings me back to the origin of my faith. Regardless of your faith or no faith at all, he spoke to everyone."