October 6, 2015

Congregational leader attends Pope Francis’ speech at White House

Sister Judith Ann Karam, CSA, congregational leader for the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine and board chair of the Catholic Health Association of the United States, had the honor of seeing Pope Francis speak at the White House during his visit to the United States in September.

Sister Judith Ann was part of a group invited to assemble in the predawn hours on September 23 on the White House lawn to hear Pope Francis deliver a message that the poor should not be overlooked, the vulnerable should be protected and freedom should be preserved.

“Mr. President, together with their fellow citizens, American Catholics are committed to building a society which is truly tolerant and inclusive, to safeguarding the rights of individuals and communities, and to rejecting every form of unjust discrimination. With countless other people of good will, they are likewise concerned that efforts to build a just and wisely ordered society respect their deepest concerns and their right to religious liberty,” said Pope Francis.

Pope Francis went on to say, “I would like all men and women of good will in this great nation to support the efforts of the international community to protect the vulnerable in our world and to stimulate integral and inclusive models of development, so that our brothers and sisters everywhere may know the blessings of peace and prosperity which God wills for all his children.”

In an article that appeared on Cleveland.com, Sister Judith Ann said Pope Francis’ message was “right on.” Sister Judith Ann said she liked how both President Obama and Pope Francis talked about the importance of building bridges and finding common ground, which she believes will help the country “move from divisiveness to working together and bringing peace.”

In the article, she said, “I am just gratified to be here.” She added that she brought prayers for her co-workers at the Sisters of Charity Health System to the gathering.

Pope Francis recognized the contributions of women religious of the United States the next day during an evening prayer service at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York. He said, “I especially would like to thank and express my esteem and gratitude to the religious women of the United States. What indeed, what would the church be without you? Women of strength, fighters with that spirit of courage, which puts you on the front lines in the proclamation of the Gospel. To you, religious women, sisters and mothers of this people, I wish to say, ‘thank you.’ A big thank you and to tell you that I love you very much."

Sister Judith Ann also serves as the chair of the public juridic person of the Sisters of Charity Health System.

To see the full text of Pope Francis’ speech at the White House or the full text and videos from his other U.S. speeches, visit the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website at usccb.org.

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