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Pope Francis Offers His Own American Dream


‘Wherever there are dreams, there is joy, Jesus is always present.’

Over his whirlwind tour of the U.S., Pope Francis returned again and again to a single word: dream.

At the White House, he said that he looked forward to hearing the dreams of the American people, while before Congress he praised the dreamers of the American civil rights movement. He even urged third-graders at a parish school in Harlem, many of whom were immigrants, to pursue their dreams.

It was no accident. Pope Francis is both a student of the Bible and an astute observer of American politics, and dreams play a central role in both, from Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, which Francis referenced multiple times, to the so-called Dreamers, young undocumented immigrants who want to become U.S. citizens.

In talking with immigrants, Francis often referred to the American dream, the age-old idea that individuals can improve their lives through hard work and opportunity, but he often recast it as more of a spiritual quest. It was an idea that he first began to develop on the first leg of his tour, in Cuba.

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