WASHINGTON—In his historic address to Congress, Pope Francis warned that traditional marriage must be protected against unprecedented threats, expressing opposition to same-sex marriage, and separately called for protection of religious liberty.
Mainstream sources are fixating on comments the Roman Pontiff made supporting liberal causes, but those comments serve to place in stark relief that even a Pope who rejects conservative positions on economic and security issues regards traditional marriage and religious liberty as paramount priorities for the United States.
“In this land, the various religious denominations have contributed greatly to building and strengthening society,” Francis declared. He set this in the context of people of faith being able to express those views and values in the public square, with clear implications for lawmaking and the courts, explaining, “It is important that today, as in the past, the voice of faith continue to be heard, for it is a voice of fraternity and love, which tries to bring out the best in each person and each society.”
Francis highlighted this point the previous night, when he made an unscheduled visit to the Little Sisters of the Poor. This is one of the religious groups currently fighting the Obama administration’s efforts to make Christian organizations cooperate with Obamacare’s “HHS Contraceptive Mandate” by compelling groups that do not want to provide abortion-related health care to sign a form that transfers that legal obligation to an insurance company, making Christian groups complicit in abortion-related activities.
The Little Sisters are represented by former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement, as well as the Becket Fund. As Breitbart News recently reported, the Supreme Court will decide in the next 30 days whether to hear arguments in this bitter struggle between America’s pro-abortion President and the religious liberty of Americans who oppose abortion.
In this first-ever address of the head of the Roman Catholic Church to a joint session of Congress, Francis chose to highlight as his final point that he would conclude his first trip to the United States by attending the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia. The definition of marriage will be perhaps the most prominent issue during that event. “How essential the family has been to the building of this country!” he began. “And how worthy it remains of our support and encouragement!”
“Yet I cannot hide my concern for the family, which is threatened, perhaps as never before, from within and without,” the Pope continued ominously. Then he made clear that he was referring to efforts to redefine marriage away from its millennia-old definition of being between a man and woman, to now solemnize homosexual relationships. “Fundamental relationships are being called into question, as is the very basis of marriage and the family,” Francis warned.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, who was the swing vote earlier this year to declare a new fundamental right in the Constitution to same-sex marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges, was only a few feet away, seated directly in front of the Pope during these comments.
“A nation can be considered great when it defends liberty as [Abraham] Lincoln did,” Pope Francis concluded. As his speech and his visit to the Little Sisters made clear, religious liberty is central to this point he seeks to press throughout his visit to the United States.
Ken Klukowski is legal editor for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @kenklukowski.