Let's get this out up front. I am not Catholic.
In fact, my childhood upbringing was Primitive Baptist, which is about as anti-Catholic as you can get. I learned a lot about discrimination without information and hate for no reason just in my experience on that topic.
Let's just say I was instructed during my growing up years that I was to avoid Catholics, to certainly not be friends with them and whatever you do, don't date one or accept an invitation to an event sponsored by them.
Catholic boys, I was told, are out to get Protestant girls pregnant so they will be forced to get married and join their church. Catholic girls, on the other hand, are out to entice Protestant boys into getting them pregnant so they can force marriage and gain members for their church.
Avoiding all things Catholic was a little tough in rural northeast Missouri where almost everything offered for kids to do was sponsored in one form or another by the Catholic Church. The Catholic Youth Center was about the only place that anything non-school related took place,
I was taught to disdain the trappings of Catholicism -- the rituals, the pageantry, the cathedrals, the symbols of wealth and power.
I think the current pontiff, Pope Francis, must have grown up as a Baptist.
Listening to his speech to the U.S. Congress was like a trip back in time to the lessons of my childhood: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you; If you do this to (or for) the least of these, you do it to me; All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God; It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
These are not the Biblical passages that today's right wing Republicans want to be reminded of. Indeed they are more about "Wives submit to your husbands" and "Slaves obey your masters", which inexplicably, are also in there.
The Pope, in his message to Congress, chose to remind his audience that life is precious at all levels -- not just in the womb, but in the streets. Not just in affluent households but in the immigrants struggling to find a better life. Even on death row in the prisons of America.
He was gentle and respectful and downright reverent toward American history. But he made his point loud and clear. If you claim to be Christian then live the life in everything you do, especially in governance of your people.
I'm not Catholic. But I am Christian. And I think I am on board with this Pope.