Esquire | Poor Mr. Madison. He didn't even want to pay for congressional chaplains. And, in the greatest defense of secular government ever written, he made sure to remind his fellow citizens of the following:
During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution.
Well, OK, then.
And here was the Pope of Rome, standing at the Speaker's rostrum in the United States House of Representatives, the legislative body in which Madison ultimately served, and talking with quiet modesty—and quiet quiet, occasionally edging on inaudibility—about the great issues of the day, and about what the responsibility of elected officials are. God only knows, you should pardon the expression, what Mr. Madison would have thought of the event itself, but it's hard to believe he would argue with Papa Francesco's assertion that:
Your own responsibility as members of Congress is to enable this country, by your legislative activity, to grow as a nation. You are the face of its people, their representatives. You are called to defend and preserve the dignity of your fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good, for this is the chief aim of all politics. A political society endures when it seeks, as a vocation, to satisfy common needs by stimulating the growth of all its members, especially those in situations of greater vulnerability or risk. Legislative activity is always based on care for the people. To this you have been invited, called and convened by those who elected you.