UP Catholic 10 02 2015 E Edition Page 12

BY ANN SCHNEIBLE CNA/EWTN NEWS Religious freedom is one of Americas most precious possessions, Pope Francis reminded President Barack Obama on Sept. 23, while lauding the nations Catholics for their work toward a soci- ety marked by tolerance and inclusiveness. With countless other people of good will, (American Cath- olics) are likewise concerned that efforts to build a just and wisely ordered society respect their deepest concerns and their right to religious liberty, the pope said at the White House in Washington, D.C. That freedom remains one of Americas most precious possessions. Echoing the appeals by the U.S. bishops on the issue of religious freedom, the pon- tiff told President Obama: All are called to be vigilant, precisely as good citizens, to preserve and defend that freedom from everything that would threaten or compro- mise it. Pope Francis also stressed the role American Catholics have played in building a tolerant and inclusive society in the nation, one which safe- fuards rights of individuals and communities, while re- jecting every form of unjust discrimination. In his remarks prior to the pontiffs, President Obama noted how the 20,000 peo- ple gathered on the White House lawn served as only a small reflection of the deep devotion of some 70 million American Catholics. The Popes meeting at the White House, marking the irst major event of his visit to the U.S. capital, comes at a time of uncertainty with regard to religious of freedom in the country. Affecting many Catholic as well as other religious institu- tions, the Obama administra- tions 2012 HHS mandate re- quires institutions to provide contraceptive services, often failing to offer exemptions to those who oppose the bill on religious grounds. There are also concerns regarding the religious rights of those who oppose same- sex marriage after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled earlier this year to legalize marriage between gay couples across all ifty States. Pope Francis also addressed the issue of climate change, and acknowledged U.S.s com- mitment to seeking solutions to air pollution. Accepting the urgency, it seems clear to me also that climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation, the pope said. He said this is a critical moment in history with re- fard to caring for our com- mon home. Citing his encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si , Pope Francis stressed the need for continued changes in the areas of sustainable and integral development. Pope Francis also expressed his appreciation to Obama for the welcome he had received in the U.S., while lightly alluding to the question of immigration. He recalled that America is a country largely built on immigrant families, like his own Italian family who settled in Argentina. Concluding his White House address, the Pope said: Mr. President, once again I thank you for your welcome, and I look forward to these days in your country. God bless America! 12 October 2, 2015 THE U.P. CATHOLIC PAPAL VISIT www.upcatholic.org Including Massage Therapy GENERAL ELECTRIC APPLIANCES KIRKISH FURNITURE Largest stock in the U.P." Restonic Bedding Televisions - RCA - Hitachi - Toshiba Floor Covering Free Delivery in the U.P. 1-800-535-0258 1200 W. MEMORIAL HOUGHTON, MICHIGAN See our electronics department for more specials. Pope speaks to president about religious freedom, care of common home COURTESY OF LITTLE SISTERS OF THE POOR Pope Francis made a surprise visit to the Little Sisters of the Poor in Wash- ington, D.C. following his address at the White House. A lawsuit has been filed by the sisters against the Obama administration for its 2012 mandate that employers provide insurance coverage for birth control, sterilizations and drugs that can cause abortions.

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