Western Springs Lawmaker Applauds Pope's Address to Congress
Witnessing Pope Francis address Congress was almost a surreal experience, reflected U.S. Rep. Daniel Lipinski, D-Western Springs.
"Seeing the pope in the House chamber, standing up there speaking, it was almost like he was glowing," Lipinski said. "Everyone was in dark colors and he was wearing very, very white garments."
"It was a tremendous experience, almost unreal having the pope come to Congress," he said.
Lipinski, a member of St. John of the Cross Catholic Church in Western Springs, said he was impressed by the pope's speech, particularly his understanding of American values and history. The pontiff traced many similarities between American values, such as justice and equality, and those of Christianity without mentioning Christianity or the Catholic Church by name, Lipinski said.
"He was calling us to always strive to better live out those values and for the members of Congress to do that in a legislative way," Lipinski said.
"One of the most important things he talked about was working together for the common good and that we should engage in dialogue," he said. "That is something at the core of a lot of the problems we are having right now in Congress, our political system and in our country in general."
Lipinski said he and his wife, Judy, had the opportunity to meet Pope Francis at the Vatican 3 ½ weeks ago while attending an international conference of Catholic legislators. About 100 lawmakers from around the world had a private audience and then the chance to personally meet the pope.
The pontiff didn't stand on formality, but shook hands and offered a blessing, Lipinski remembered.
"He was very warm, just as you see him on TV. That definitely comes through personally," the congressman recalled. "I will always cherish that."
Lipinski said he looks forward to following the rest of the pope's visit to New York and Philadelphia.
"He certainly has captured the hearts of so many Americans. It reminds of me of Pope John Paul II's visit to Chicago 35 years ago and the outpouring of love," he said. "Pope Francis really wants to make those connections with people."
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