By Dan Wooding, Founder of the ASSIST News Service
WASHINGTON, DC (ANS – September 22, 2015) — Pope Francis has called for further action on climate change saying that it was “a critical moment of history,” on the first day of his visit to the US.
Speaking to a crowd of more than 11,000 people on the White House South Lawn, the BBC said that pontiff said the problem could “no longer be left to a future generation.”
President Barack Obama said the Pope reminded people “that we have a sacred obligation to protect our planet.”
The Pope also praised the response of US bishops to the sex abuse crisis.
He told those gathered at St Matthew’s Cathedral that the US church leaders had brought a “generous commitment to bring healing to victims,” but said the church officials must work to ensure the abuse will not happen again.
The BBC went on to say that earlier, making a rare speech in English to thousands at the White House, Pope Francis praised President Obama for recent proposals aimed at tackling air pollution.
Time remains to make the changes required, the Pope said, in a speech that also called for protecting religious liberty and stamping out discrimination.
At the afternoon Mass, Junipero Serra, a Spanish Franciscan who founded a mission in California in the 18th Century, will become the first Hispanic saint in the US.
But the decision to canonize the missionary has been criticized by some Native Americans, who view him as someone who aggressively imposed Catholicism on their ancestors.
Pope Francis has in the past apologized for the treatment of indigenous people.
Meanwhile, Sofia Cruz, a five-year-old girl managed to get through security to deliver a message to the Pope.
She was the daughter of undocumented immigrants and was able to deliver a hand-written message to Pope Francis by pushing past metal barriers and a phalanx of security guards.
“On his first official visit to the US, the Pope paraded through Washington DC, greeting thousands of the faithful,” explained the BBC.
“Sofia Cruz was stopped at first when she pushed past the barriers but the Pope waved her forward.
“To loud cheers, the Pope gave Sofia a hug and a kiss and took her note.”
Joseph Reblando, who was standing next to the Cruz family, said, “She came back and her father was just in tears. And the whole crowd in my section were just going nuts,” said.
Sofia said she wrote the letter about the five million children in the US whose immigrant parents could be deported.
Immigration has become a major issue in the US presidential race with some candidates urging mass deportations.
About 11 million people, some with native-born children, live in the US illegally.
Democrats have advocated providing them with a path to citizenship, but many Republicans oppose such measures.
Sofia and her parents, who are from Mexico but now live in a suburb of Los Angeles, said they hope the Pope will speak about the immigration issue when he addressed the US Congress on Thursday.
Photo caption: 1) The Pope speaking at Climate Change at the White House. 2) Pope Francis speaking on the White House Lawn. 3) Sofia Cruz delivered a message about immigration. 4) Dan Wooding.
About the writer: Dan Wooding, 74, is an award-winning author, broadcaster and journalist who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, and is now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for more than 52 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. Dan is the founder and international director of ASSIST (Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times) and the ASSIST News Service (ANS). He is also the author of some 45 books.
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