Thursday on the radio program Full Court Press, Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) said they were hopeful Pope Francis would elevate Catholic teachings on social justice.

Welch noted Francis lived a "modest life" prior to being named Pope, giving up many luxuries and devoting himself to aiding those in need.

"The Church should be about that," he said. "So, at least that is something I feel pretty good about."

As a member of the Society of Jesus, Francis has vowed to devote his life to protecting the oppressed and the poor. The missionary-focused religious order has been closely associated with the leftist movement known as liberation theology and has provoked controversy by questioning the Vatican's stance on abortion, women in the church and contraception. But recent reports cast doubt that Francis is as progressive as many of his Jesuit brethren.

"One of the most beautiful things about Catholicism is Catholic social teaching," Rep. Keith Ellison added. "It doesn't get enough attention as we are debating all the social doctrines -- conservative social doctrines. Those things sometimes overshadow this beautiful ethic of progressive taxation, of caring for the poor, of responsibility for each and all, and I just hope now we will be able to see that side of Catholic doctrine much more prominently."

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