Democracy Now! - September 24, 2015

Pope Francis heads to Capitol Hill today to become the first pope ever to address Congress. On Wednesday, he spoke at the White House, then addressed hundreds of U.S. bishops at St. Matthew’s Cathedral. He later canonized the controversial 18th-century missionary, Father Junípero Serra — a move protested by many indigenous groups. The pope also made a previously unannounced stop to visit nuns at the Little Sisters of the Poor, which sued the federal government over the birth control mandate in the Affordable Care Act. At the White House, Pope Francis spoke about poverty, immigration and climate change. "Mr. President, I find it encouraging that you are proposing an initiative for reducing air pollution," Pope Francis told President Obama. "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. When it comes to the care of our 'common home,' we are living at a critical moment of history."

The pope’s visit has also drawn criticism over his position on women’s leadership within the church. Seven activists have been arrested in a civil disobedience in Washington, D.C., to call for Pope Francis to recognize the rights of women to be ordained. Among those arrested were four women priests who staged a die-in near St. Matthew’s Church. We speak to Janice Sevre-Duszynska, an ordained priest with the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests.

During his speech before Congress today, Pope Francis highlighted the work of four "great" Americans: Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton. "In these times when social concerns are so important, I cannot fail to mention the Servant of God Dorothy Day, who founded the Catholic Worker Movement," the pope said. "Her social activism, her passion for justice and for the cause of the oppressed, were inspired by the gospel, her faith and the example of the saints." He went on to say, "A nation can be considered great when it defends liberty as Lincoln did, when it fosters a culture which enables people to "dream" of full rights for all their brothers and sisters, as Martin Luther King sought to do; when it strives for justice and the cause of the oppressed, as Dorothy Day did by her tireless work, the fruit of a faith which becomes dialogue and sows peace in the contemplative style of Thomas Merton." We look at the life of Day, who was endorsed for canonization by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2012. Day founded the Catholic Worker Movement with Peter Maurin. Thus began a life of voluntary poverty and radical politics. The Catholic Worker first began by setting up urban houses of hospitality and farm communes to feed and shelter the poor. The movement also advocated pacifism and opposition to the draft. We speak to her granddaughter, Martha Hennessy, and Robert Ellsberg, who has edited and published the writings of Dorothy Day.

A new report by InsideClimate News reveals how oil giant ExxonMobil’s own research confirmed the role of fossil fuels in global warming decades ago. By 1977, Exxon’s own senior experts had begun to warn the burning of fossil fuels could pose a threat to humanity. At first, Exxon launched an ambitious research program, outfitting a supertanker with instruments to study carbon dioxide in the air and ocean. But toward the end of the 1980s, Exxon changed course and shifted to the forefront of climate change denial. Since the 1990s, it has spent millions of dollars funding efforts to reject the science its own experts knew of decades ago.

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Abraham Lincoln Climate Change Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Exxon Fossil Fuels The Pope Thomas Merton

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