Pope Francis addresses Congress

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Pope Francis opened his historic speech to Congress by describing himself as a “son of this great continent” joined in a common purpose with America.

The Argentine-born pope is the first from the Americas. And his speech to Congress was the first by any pontiff.

A bipartisan group of congressional leaders escorted him up the aisle for his speech in the House chamber, as tens of thousands waited outside.

Pope Francis talked on topics from fighting religious freedom, the death penalty, family and immigration.

He urged Congress — and the United States as a whole — not to be afraid of immigrants but to welcome them as fellow human beings.

He says people are not things that can be discarded just because they are troublesome.

The pontiff’s admonition comes as the presidential race is roiled by questions about immigration from Mexico and Latin America, and the nation is weighing how many migrants to accept from wars in the Middle East.

The son of Italian immigrants to Argentina himself, Francis noted that the United States was founded by immigrants, that many lawmakers are descended from foreigners, and that this generation must not “turn their back on our neighbors.”

His plea: “Let us treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated.”

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