Yesterday, a little girl gave the pope a letter. Today, he said 5 things that sound just like her.

Yesterday, 5-year-old Sophie Cruz had what was probably one of the best days of her life.

The daughter of undocumented immigrants eagerly broke past security as Pope Francis rode by and was rewarded with a hug from the global religious leader. In that touching moment, she handed him a handwritten letter that outlined her plea for immigration reform.


Photo by Esra Kaymak/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images.

The heartwarming story of the little girl with a determined spirit and an important message made international news.

It was fitting lead-up to the pope's agenda today, which many thought would be far less warm and fuzzy: giving a historic speech to Congress.

In his speech this morning, Pope Francis covered a variety of issues, from climate change and poverty to the death penalty and, yes, immigration. If you listened closely throughout, you'd have heard quite a few things that are sure to have made little Sophie proud.

This one's for you, Sophie. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images.

Here are five lines from Sophie's letter, paired with lines from the pope's speech to Congress, that make me wonder if the bold little girl had a hand in writing it:

Sophie: "I want to tell you that my heart is sad,"

Pope Francis: “I also want to dialogue with those young people who … face difficult situations, often as a result of immaturity on the part of many adults."

The pope began his remarks by listing the groups of people who were a priority for him to speak with and think of during his trip to the U.S.

High on that list were young people. He could have just addressed them in a generic, cliche way, as most people do when they speak of children, calling them "the future" or "hope for tomorrow." Instead, he made note of how many children are suffering the consequences of decisions made by adults.

He was speaking, of course, of the children whose hearts, like Sophie's, are sad.

Sophie: "I have a right to be happy."

Pope Francis: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

Sound familiar? The pope quoted this line from the Declaration of Independence for a reason: a reminder to Congress that we have the unalienable right to pursue happiness here, the land of the American Dream. Sophie knows it too. What would happen if elected officials kept that in mind?

Sophie: "All immigrants just like my dad help feed this country."

Pope Francis: “I would like to take this opportunity to dialogue with the many thousands of men and women who strive each day to do an honest day's work, to bring home their daily bread, to save money and — one step at a time — to build a better life for their families. ... These are men and women who are not concerned simply with paying their taxes, but in their own quiet way sustain the life of society. "

The pope wasn't speaking exclusively about immigrants here, but he made clear that he was talking to the hardworking people in this country who aren't just taking care of themselves and their families.

He was talking to the many people who are taking care of our entire nation through their work and their concern for others.

And it sounds like Sophie's dad might be in that group.

Sophie: "They deserve to live with dignity. They deserve to live with respect."

Pope Francis: “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."

Sophie sounded very clear on this point, and so did the pope: Everyone deserves basic human dignity.

But Pope Francis took it one step further and reminded Congress that their #1 priority should be to protect it. He not only believes that Sophie's parents and all humans deserve dignity — he's making clear whose job it is to ensure that they get it.

In other words, "I got you, Sophie."

Sophie: "My friends and I love each other no matter our skin color."

Pope Francis: "We must move forward together, as one, in a renewed spirit of fraternity and solidarity, cooperating generously for the common good."

Unity, solidarity, and oneness were repeated themes throughout the pope's remarks. He called politics an "expression of our compelling need to live as one" and spoke of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his work in the civil rights movement as one of four Americans who exemplified the type of leadership and moral courage we are desperately in need of today.

On this front, little Sophie employed some boldness that the pope (who notably made no reference to race, racial discord, or discrimination) did not. But maybe her edits on his draft got cut for time?



Pope Francis' speech and Sophie's letter are both wonderful reads, so make sure to check them out in their entirety.

While the 5-year-old may not have actually helped write the pope's remarks, it's clear that her letter yesterday went straight to his heart because today, in speaking to Congress and boldly encouraging them to help the vulnerable, welcome the stranger, and protect the American Dream, the pope did exactly what Sophie asked.

True

When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

This article originally appeared on 12.02.19


Just imagine being an 11-year-old boy who's been shuffled through the foster care system. No forever home. No forever family. No idea where you'll be living or who will take care of you in the near future.

Then, a loving couple takes you under their care and chooses to love you forever.

What could one be more thankful for?

That's why when a fifth grader at Deerfield Elementary School in Cedar Hills, Utah was asked by his substitute teacher what he's thankful for this Thanksgiving, he said finally being adopted by his two dads.

via OD Action / Twitter

To the child's shock, the teacher replied, "that's nothing to be thankful for," and then went on a rant in front of 30 students saying that "two men living together is a sin" and "homosexuality is wrong."

While the boy sat there embarrassed, three girls in the class stood up for him by walking out of the room to tell the principal. Shortly after, the substitute was then escorted out of the building.

While on her way out she scolded the boy, saying it was his fault she was removed.

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One of the boy's parents-to-be is Louis van Amstel, is a former dancer on ABC's "Dancing with the Stars." "It's absolutely ridiculous and horrible what she did," he told The Salt Lake Tribune. "We were livid. It's 2019 and this is a public school."

The boy told his parents-to-be he didn't speak up in the classroom because their final adoption hearing is December 19 and he didn't want to do anything that would interfere.

He had already been through two failed adoptions and didn't want it to happen again.

via Loren Javier / Flickr

A spokesperson for the Alpine School District didn't go into detail about the situation but praised the students who spoke out.

"Fellow students saw a need, and they were able to offer support," David Stephenson said. "It's awesome what happened as far as those girls coming forward."

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He also said that "appropriate action has been taken" with the substitute teacher.

"We are concerned about any reports of inappropriate behavior and take these matters very seriously," Kelly Services, the school the contracts out substitute teachers for the district, said in a statement. "We conduct business based on the highest standards of integrity, quality, and professional excellence. We're looking into this situation."

After the incident made the news, the soon-to-be adoptive parents' home was covered in paper hearts that said, "We love you" and "We support you."

Religion is supposed to make us better people.

But what have here is clearly a situation where a woman's judgement about what is good and right was clouded by bigoted dogma. She was more bothered by the idea of two men loving each other than the act of pure love they committed when choosing to adopt a child.