‘America will remain a beacon of freedom for the world’

Papal reflections on the United States of America

Paul VI

We feel, too, that the entire American people is here present, with its noblest and most characteristic traits: a people basing its conception of life on spiritual values, on a religious sense, on the rule of law, on freedom, on loyalty, on work, on the respect of duty, on family affection, on generosity, and courage.

— Homily of His Holiness Paul VI, Yankee Stadium, New York, Oct. 4, 1965

President John F. Kennedy visits St. Paul VI on July 2, 1963. Photo: Public Domain

Paul VI

To America, our prayerful wishes for prosperity and peace, under the rule of law, in concord with the other nations of the world; and our heartfelt blessings upon its people, their families, their government, their homes and schools and churches, one nation, under God, free and indivisible. God bless America! God bless you all!

— Address of the His Holiness Paul VI, farewell ceremony, New York, Oct. 4, 1965


John Paul II

As I go, I take with me vivid memories of a dynamic nation, a warm and welcoming people, a Church abundantly blessed with a rich blend of cultural traditions. I depart with admiration for the ecumenical spirit that breathes strongly throughout this land, for the genuine enthusiasm of your young people, and for the hopeful aspirations of your most recent immigrants.

— Address of His Holiness John Paul II, farewell ceremony, Detroit, Sept. 19, 1987

John Paul II

I say this, too, to the United States of America: today, in our world as it is, many other nations and peoples look to you as the principal model and pattern for their own advancement in democracy.

— Address of His Holiness John Paul II, farewell ceremony, Baltimore, Oct. 8, 1995

John Paul II

I am pleased to have another opportunity to thank the American people for the countless works of human goodness and solidarity which, from the beginning, have been such a part of the history of your country.

— Address of His Holiness John Paul II, welcome ceremony, St. Louis, Jan. 26, 1999

President Ronald Reagan, first lady Nancy Reagan, and St. John Paul II at the Vatican in 1982. Photo: Public Domain

John Paul II

America first proclaimed its independence on the basis of self-evident moral truths. America will remain a beacon of freedom for the world as long as it stands by those moral truths which are the very heart of its historical experience. And so America: If you want peace, work for justice. If you want justice, defend life. If you want life, embrace the truth — the truth revealed by God.

— Homily of His Holiness John Paul II, Liturgy of Vespers, Cathedral Basilica, St. Louis, Jan. 27, 1999


Benedict XVI

America’s Catholics have made, and continue to make, an excellent contribution to the life of their country. As I begin my visit, I trust that my presence will be a source of renewal and hope for the Church in the United States, and strengthen the resolve of Catholics to contribute ever more responsibly to the life of this nation, of which they are proud to be citizens.

— Address of His Holiness Benedict XVI, welcoming ceremony, South Lawn of the White House, Washington, April 16, 2008

Benedict XVI

America is also a land of great faith. Your people are remarkable for their religious fervor and they take pride in belonging to a worshipping community.

— Address of His Holiness Benedict XVI, Celebration of Vespers and Meeting with U.S. bishops, National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, April 16, 2008

President George W. Bush and first lady Laura Bush greet Pope Benedict XVI at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on April 15, 2008. Photo: Public Domain

Benedict XVI

These days that I have spent in the United States have been blessed with many memorable experiences of American hospitality, and I wish to express my deep appreciation to all of you for your kind welcome. It has been a joy for me to witness the faith and devotion of the Catholic community here. It was heart-warming to spend time with leaders and representatives of other Christian communities and other religions, and I renew my assurances of respect and esteem to all of you.

— Address of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, farewell ceremony, John Fitzgerald Kennedy International Airport, New York, April 20, 2008


Francis

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. In these remarks I have sought to present some of the richness of your cultural heritage, of the spirit of the American people.

— Address of His Holiness Pope Francis to a joint session of the U.S. Congress, U.S. Capitol, Washington, Sept. 24, 2015

Pope Francis at a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress on Sept. 24, 2015. Photo: Public Domain

Francis

I thank the Lord that I was able to witness the faith of God’s people in this country, as manifested in our moments of prayer together and evidenced in so many works of charity. Jesus says in the Scriptures: “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.” Your care for me and your generous welcome are a sign of your love for Jesus and your faithfulness to him.

— Greeting to the organizers, volunteers, and benefactors of the World Meeting of Families, Philadephia International Airport, Philadelphia, Sept. 27, 2015

Francis

Dear friends, I embrace all of you in the Lord and I entrust you to the maternal care of Mary Immaculate, patroness of the United States. I will pray for you and your families, and I ask you, please, to pray for me. May God bless you all. God bless America!

— Greeting to the organizers, volunteers, and benefactors of the World Meeting of Families, Philadephia International Airport, Philadelphia, Sept. 27, 2015

Benedict XVIFrom the VaticanJohn Paul IIPaul VIPope FrancisUnited States
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