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Local Catholics call pope's speech "remarkable"

Posted at 7:32 PM, Sep 24, 2015

INDIANAPOLIS -- Local Catholics are calling the pope’s address to Congress a “remarkable” event. They are confident his message has broad appeal, and relevance beyond the walls of the Catholic Church.

About 50 Catholics and employees of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis listened to the pope's speech at the Catholic Center.

"I think he came to give us a bit of a challenge but to also affirm all the good things we're already doing as a country and as a people in America, who have been pretty blessed and fortunate,” Father Gerald Kirkhoff said.

In a roughly 50 minute address to Congress, Pope Francis called for cooperation and courage.

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"I think the message to Congress is look, you men and women represent the American people and their hopes and dreams, so you have a bit of a responsibility not just to pass laws but to support the American dream if you will, and to encourage people,” Kirkhoff said.

The pope talked about his role in building bridges. But Father Kirkhoff said it reaches beyond the partisan divide in Washington.

The pope received a standing ovation when he stated the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

“He didn't couch it in explicitly Christian theological language but instead couched it in something anyone from any religion or even no religion at all could relate to. I mean, that again is a sign of the broadly inclusive nature of this pope,” Butler University Professor Chad Bauman said.

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Bauman sees the pope’s address as a teaching opportunity.

"I think the fact that the pope is in the United States speaking so publicly about controversial issues in general is what's important, and it's what has typified his papacy so far,” Bauman said.

Bauman said the pope spoke more directly about liberal issues, like abolishing the death penalty. But, he spoke in more general terms on conservative issues. For example, he discussed the idea of family being important, but did not specifically discuss the Catholic view of marriage.