Pope Francis has landed in Washington, DC for what promises to be an eventful three days in the nation's capital city. His whirlwind visit has been highly anticipated by religious and non-religious alike.
Yet hours before his arrival, another event brought into sharp focus why his core message needs to be heard.
Tuesday morning, the U.S. Senate voted 54-42 on a motion to proceed to the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act; the measure, which needed 60 votes to continue in Congress, is effectively concluded for now.
"How blind can you possibly be to ignore the pain of the unborn?" asked one pro-life advocate on Twitter.
Apparently 42 Senators are blind to the humanity of the most vulnerable.
Which makes it fitting that Pope Francis addresses Congress this Thursday — a Christian voice who points to the intrinsic value of all creation and our responsibility to care for every person, using scripture as his guide.
The Pontiff has been gaining popularity since the beginning of his papacy in 2013. While millennials are the largest demographic who favor Pope Francis and his message, according to the Barna Group, his appeal crosses all sub-groups.
Favorability is up among Protestants with a 10-point increase (from 48% to 58%) since 2014. These Evangelicals report that the Pope is having a "positive influence on their views of the church."
Pope Francis is not without his critics. In advance of his historic address to Congress, the Vatican released his encyclical on the environment entitled Laudato Si' — a call to "care for our common home."
In nearly 40,000 words, Pope Francis lays out how humanity must change its course of action to combat "climate change" and the "damage caused by human abuse of God's creation." Some have called Laudato Si' too conservative, while others point to a political motivation — with the encyclical released ahead of the United Nations Climate Summit in Paris this winter.
Many disagree economically, politically and scientifically with the Pope on his environmental concerns. Yet both Protestant and Catholic Christians can agree with his strong words and inspiring actions to promote the sanctity of all life.
Pope Francis condemns abortion in Laudato Si' while highlighting the inequality of value placed on certain life over human life.
He writes, "At times we see an obsession with denying any pre-eminence to the human person; more zeal is shown in protecting other species than in defending the dignity which all human beings share in equal measure …
"But we should be particularly indignant at the enormous inequalities in our midst, whereby we continue to tolerate some considering themselves more worthy than others."
For an example of inequality in our midst, look no further than the mainstream media's distorted coverage this summer. Two stories broke within weeks of each other, each dealing with created life.
Starting in July, undercover videos by The Center of Medical Progress exposed the grotesque and illegal selling of baby parts by Planned Parenthood. Despite the lack of media coverage, some Americans have nevertheless been made aware of what happens within the walls of the nation's largest abortion provider.
Not only are babies being murdered, but their body parts are being sold to the highest bidder — as if human life is some sort of commodity for profit.
Cue the next story … one that generated widespread media outrage. A Minnesota dentist hunted and killed a well-known lion named Cecil. This famed lion was among the thousands of protected wildlife living in Zimbabwe's Hwange National Park. He was lured out of the safe zone and shot with a bow and arrow.
Celebrities and politicians alike lamented the killing of this majestic animal. Talk show host Jimmy Kimmel even broke down in tears describing the killing of Cecil.
The stark difference between the silence over profiting from dead baby parts, and the moral indignation from media and celebrities over a protected lion, shows the grievous inequality our society places on human life.
Revealing the worth given to all created life, Pope Francis calls us back to our God-given responsibility. It's a conversation the Christian church certainly needs to have. And, thanks to the larger-than-life pulpit the Pope occupies, his ideas on the value of life will be broadcast even by mainstream media outlets that generally avoid such issues.
"It is clearly inconsistent to combat endangered species," the Pope exclaims in Laudato Si'. "While remaining completely indifferent to human trafficking, unconcerned about the poor, or undertaking to destroy another human being deemed unwanted."
Pope Francis is stating that the debate on "climate change" and any discussion about the environment must include the protection of all life.
He questions the accepted narrative:
"Since everything is interrelated, concern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justification of abortion. How can we genuinely teach the importance of concern for other vulnerable beings, however troublesome or inconvenient they may be, if we fail to protect a human embryo, even when its presence is uncomfortable and creates difficulties?"
In the realm of the protection of the environment, many believe the answer to the abuse of our planet is population control. Environmentalists, Western governments, and even certain religious groups believe we need to deny one part of humanity to save another.