The Pope visited Congress and spoke on several topics:
Families: who can be against them. Easy applause lines. Presumably not referring to families headed by same sex partners.
Social Justice: the selection of Dorothy Day as a representative of “American values” may have been controversial choice for free market loving conservatives (assuming they know who she was). The Catholic Worker Movement is way too socialist for a Republican listener.
Common Home: action on climate change wouldn’t sit well with Republican science deniers (the entire party?). Santorum, Christie, and Jeb! have already told the Pontiff to mind his own business. The tepid Republican response contrasted strongly to their response to …
Life: one Republican hooted when s/he thought the Pope was going to call for the abolition of abortion. When he said “the death penalty,” the hoot turned shriek suddenly stopped. I can imagine there’s a lot a disappointment on the religious conservative front, which doesn’t associate the death penalty with the inviolable right to life.
Common Good: I don’t think the Republican Party believes in this idea. Democrats and Communitarians will respond warmly to it.
Historical American Values: the selection of Lincoln and ML King Jr won’t go over well in southern red states where the Confederate flag is a “cultural heritage.”
Immigration: not a good topic for the majority Republican audience. Republicans don’t view immigrants as numbers; they are viewed as criminals and job stealers. When the Pope said “When the stranger appears to us … we must not repeat the sins and errors of the past,” he was met with stony silence from the Republican side of the Congress.
Overall, the speech is likely music to the ears of the liberal minded; dismissible by those of the conservative bent. Republican proposed policies would work against nearly everything the Pope encouraged. Fox News spent more than five minutes spinning the Pope’s speech to make it a win for Republicans, a futile, but entertaining, exercise.
Later, the Pope visited St Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue. Cole Haan received free advertising from numerous camera shots.
The expensive rebuild of the Cathedral and the line of wealthy donors participating in the evening vespers service stood in stark contrast to the Pope’s anti-materialist message and its emphasis on helping the poor.