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Pope Francis to Skip Lunch With Congressmen, Will Eat With DC’s Homeless Community Instead

By dining with the less-fortunate, the Pontiff sends a powerful message to Washington’s elite.

image via wikimedia commons

Pope Francis’ speech to a joint session of congress on Thursday is being heralded as one of the most significant political events in Washington D.C. in recent memory. The Pontiff discussed a range of issues, including poverty, our responsibilities to this planet, and the continuing political and moral challenges surrounding immigration to the United States. But while any speech to a congressional body is inherently political, Pope Francis has made it clear that he’s not there to play politics as usual.


Following his speech, Pope Francis has reportedly chosen to skip a number of invitations to dine with members of congress, including Speaker of the House John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Instead, he has opted to spend his lunch both serving, and eating with members of Washington’s homeless community. The pope is scheduled to visit St. Patrick’s Church, and the Catholic Charities of the DC archdiocese, where he will bless a meal of chicken, salad, green beans and brownies for around three hundred poor and homeless diners.

Speaking with the Washington City Paper, Catholic Charities’ Washington-branch communications director Erik Salmi explained:

We expect [the pope] to be like a maître d’ at a restaurant. There’s not a lot that’s scripted; rather, we want him to have as much time to greet people [and] spend time with them as possible. He’s big with people on the margins of society, those that tend to get overlooked.

It’s a move that is both bold in its symbolism–an eschewing of the hobnobbing that is the currency of the capital’s powerful and elite–and entirely appropriate for a Pope who has made outreach to those one the margins of our society the centerpiece of his papacy. Earlier this year, Francis invited one hundred and fifty homeless men and women to an exclusive tour of the Vatican, during which he surprised guests with a personal appearance.

Pope Francis’ political views, from his focus poverty, to his stance on LGBTQ rights and abortion, cannot be easily claimed by a single political party. Democrats, and Republicans alike will likely find moments of his speech that will not cleanly align with their own beliefs; It speaks to Francis’ ability to share a message that is fundamentally different from the partisan cacophony that tends to drown out actual political progress. But throughout his tenure as Pope, Francis has made a point to do more than simply share a powerful message. By opting to spend his lunch with Washington’s less fortunate, the Pope is demonstrating a humility and commitment to service that surpasses oratory and pomp. Instead, he is leading by example, and in doing so, has implicitly raised the bar for what we should expect from our elected officials. It’s not enough to simply admonish and inspire from a podium. Instead, one must act, and do so without reservation or pride.

To Francis, leadership stems from truly serving the community–the whole community–regardless of whose lunch plans you have to turn down, in the process.

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The problem with American Sign Language (ASL) is that over 500,000 people in the U.S. use it, but the country has over 330 million people.

So for those with hearing loss, the chances of coming into contact with someone who uses the language are rare. Especially outside of the deaf community.

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Looking back, the year 1995 seems like such an innocent time. America was in the midst of its longest streak of peace and prosperity. September 11, 2001 was six years away, and the internet didn't seem like much more than a passing fad.

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Imagine what those poll numbers would look like if the question was asked today.

RELATED: Bill and Melinda Gates had a surprising answer when asked about a 70 percent tax on the wealthiest Americans

"Few see online activities as essential to them, and no single online feature, with the exception of E-Mail, is used with any regularity," the Pew article said. "Consumers have yet to begin purchasing goods and services online, and there is little indication that online news features are changing traditional news consumption patterns."

"Late Night" host David Letterman had Microsoft founder and, at that time the richest man in the world, on his show for an interview in '95 to discuss the "the big new thing."

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The clip brings to mind a 1994 segment on "The Today Show" where host Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric have a similar discussion.

"What is internet anyway?" an exasperated Gumball asks. "What do you write to it like mail?"

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Culture
Photo by Li-An Lim on Unsplash

The future generations will have to live on this Earth for years to come, and, not surprisingly, they're very concerned about the fate of our planet. We've seen a rise in youth activists, such as Greta Thunberg, who are raising awareness for climate change. A recent survey indicates that those efforts are working, as more and more Americans (especially young Americans) feel concerned about climate change.

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