So now that you know how to conduct yourself if you have the audacity to go out in public, let’s turn our attention to Congress and the pope. Congress has asked the pope to come along and talk to them next time he’s in town, officially.
Congressional leaders have invited Pope Francis to address a joint session of Congress during his expected visit to the United States next year.
He’s planning to come over in September for a conference on families. Because that makes sense, right? Having an officially celibate cleric participate in a conference on families? They should invite him to a conference on early childhood development, too; he could explain the benefits of being raped by the priest and watching nobody care.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), as the constitutional officer of Congress, made the formal invitation on behalf of House and Senate leaders, according to House and Senate aides. The House speaker is the officer who formally invites the president each year to give a State of the Union address. All joint sessions of Congress occur in the House Chamber because it is the larger of the two chambers.
As the constitutional officer of Congress, he sent that invitation to the world’s only King and Emperor of a Global Religion. As the constitutional officer of Congress, did he give any thought to the separation of church and state? Did he pause to wonder why secular legislators should have the world’s only pontiff lecturing them?
If there’s one person in the whole world who should not be invited to lecture the US congress, it’s the pope. There is no one else on earth who has the position the pope has. Not one. It’s a unique position, and uniquely anachronistic, and uniquely theocratic. Congress has no business inviting him to talk to Congress.
Aides to Boehner said he sent the invitation Thursday to officials in Vatican City. If Francis accepts the invitation, he would be the first pontiff to ever address American lawmakers from the U.S. Capitol, according to Boehner aides.
In his formal invitation, Boehner noted that Francis’s ascension to the papacy and his social teachings over the past year “have prompted careful reflection and vigorous dialogue among people of all ideologies and religious views in the United States and throughout a rapidly changing world, particularly among those who champion human dignity, freedom, and social justice.”
Al Dente says
Frank is much better at PR than Benny Ratzi or even John Paul the Two Eyes were. Frank certainly has Boehner fooled.
Marcus Ranum says
As the constitutional officer of Congress, he sent that invitation to the world’s only King and Emperor of a Global Religion.
Imagine the shitfit that would ensue if he invited Moqtada Al-Sadr or some other muslim cleric.
Blanche Quizno says
Awww! I was hoping it would be about horsies!!
Blanche Quizno says
This IS interesting, though – we’ve only had a single Catholic president, and if I recall my history, there was quite a to-do about electing a Catholic man to the office of POTUS! The official Christianity of the USA is Evangelical and/or Baptist (I know – how do you tell them apart??) with Pentecostal (which pretty much qualifies) coming up fast. Catholics have always been regarded as just a few notches better than Mormons.
So why, all of a sudden, is Congress pandering to Catholics? Is it because they think Pope Francis is popular and, thus, it will reflect well on them to have a token photo-op with the man in the dress and the funny hat?
Maybe he means in the same way that a school shooting spree prompts a vigorous dialogue among those who champion gun control.
Marcus Ranum says
I’m trying to figure if the “equine contributions” was a reference to horse poo, or to Caligula’s equine senator. But since you ended with “horseshit” I’ll go with the former.
Latverian Diplomat says
Not a fan of the pope, and I don’t think we should have diplomatic ties to the Vatican (the existence of which is Mussolini’s lasting legacy) but there is a similar religious figure accorded much the same treatment by our government.
Up until 2011, at least, the Dalai Lama was the head of the Tibetan government in exile, as a well as the head of Tibetan Buddhism.
In 2006 he addressed Congress on the occasion of received the Congressional gold medal, The United States’ highest civilian honor.
As I understand it, he also likes to be referred to as “His Holiness”. if only as a matter of protocol.
Blanche Quizno says
@ 7: Difference is, Latverian Diplomat, the Dalai Lama is, as you noted, IN EXILE. He is officially POWERLESS. The Pope is not only the President-equivalent of a sovereign nation (Vatican City, the smallest nation in the world, but, as the guys consistently tell us, it’s not the size that counts), but also of the worldwide Catholic Church. Compared to the number of Catholics out there in the world, the number of Tibetan Buddhists is truly miniscule. It’s effectively nothing, comparatively speaking.
It’s completely different, and I’m really surprised you would bring it up as you did. Do you REALLY not see the difference between a banished head of state and a sitting head of state, or the difference between the leader of a small and esoteric religious movement and the leader of a worldwide religious movement that was spread by imperialism and brute force??
It could have been worse, IIRR there are actually three of the bastards!
Boner could have invited all of them for a sort of pope-athon*!
No doubt catered by the fast-food chicken chain Popeyes. 🙂
* You could do it in a cage ‘three Popes enter, one Pope leaves’…
I think the invitation is likely meant to be a signal of support for a reforming Pope and to lend his reforms authority, which it is likely to do. It may also give Congress some influence with the Vatican which could affect the lives of many Catholics. Generally, I think the more of this sort of thing the better, even when the people invited aren’t my type. The day a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood can be invited to address Congress will be a bright one.
I agree with the person who said that honouring a Pope and honouring a Dalai Lama amount to the same thing. Both of them are heads of state only by virtue of their religious office. The Pope at least has the virtue of being elected by some people, and the Vatican is a model of progress and modernity compared to Tibet under the Lamas.
A Masked Avenger says
Fear not–Congress doesn’t care in the least what he has to say. It’s a dog and pony show. The purpose is to enhance respect for Congress from those who already adore the Pope. They also had Colbert testify. They do these stunts because it looks better on their resume than it does on the speaker’s, usually.
The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople might disagree with that description…
Which would make it an ecumenical matter …
(Joke only accessible to Father Ted fans.)
Actually, I think I’d love to see this pope address congress. Given his track record of condemning Republican fiscal policy as evil, it might be entertaining as all hell.
Reginald Selkirk says
Given the Right’s recent swoon over Putin, I wonder if they will ask the Pontiff to appear shirtless.
Yes! /Father Jack
Frankie’s a master of PR compared with his predecessors. Still no word on “human dignity, freedom, and social justice” for Savita Halappanavar and countless other women, for the victims of child abuse and for the survivors of the Magdalene Laundries, though.
Concur w. C elegans, FT is surely some of the most inspired mockery of the rcc the world has ever seen.
Latverian Diplomat says
!) The Vatican City is a tiny microstate that exists purely due to the good will of Italy. By nature of its celibate population, they are no native citizens, surely a unique circumstance. The Tibetan government in exile has a far more legitimate claim to represent a real nation of real population of citizens. The Vatican is recognized by more nations because it has more money and is not opposed by a powerful nation.
2 You seem to argue that the Dalai Lama has more legitimacy because he has fewer followers This is a non sequitur at best.
Religious leaders get their asses kissed by the American government all the time, in violation of our constitution and in contradiction to the evidence that they are not the fonts of moral wisdom they proclaim
themselves to be.
The Pope may be the worst example, but he is not unique. The Dalai Lama was until recently, practically the same in the conflation of religious and diplomatic status , but his warm, fuzzy messages (to his American audience) and lack of relevance to the American political scene shouldn’t make his treatment by Congress any less embarrassing.