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Congress warns against traditional gesture for Pope Francis' visit

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Pope Francis will be the first pontiff to address a political meeting

A joint meeting of the House and Senate in Washington, D.C. will be held next week, and Pope Francis will become the first pontiff to address such a gathering. However, the Congressional leaders have asked their co-lawmakers to avoid the traditional gesture of glad-handing.

Highlights

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (https://www.catholic.org)
9/21/2015 (6 years ago)

Published in Politics & Policy

Keywords: Pope Francis, Congress, Senate

MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConell, and House Speaker John Boehner, sent a letter to the members of the Congress asking them to refrain from the joyous handshaking once Pope Francis enters the room for the event.

Glad-handing is usually initiated during political events; Congressional leaders would like to totally phase out this kind of gesture during the Pope events.



The letter stated, "Out of respect for the pope's schedule and the expectation of a timely address, we respectfully request that you assist us by refraining from handshakes and conversations along and down the center aisle."

This request is the complete opposite of what the politicians practice during the presidential State of the Union address every year where they hug and shake hands with the President, as soon as he enters the room and heads over to the lectern.

As a follow-up to the issuance of the letter, the politicians will be directed on how they should behave in front of the Pope, when he arrives on September 24, in Capitol Hill. The lawmakers are expect no one on the Republican or Democratic side will be cheering in response to the Pope, as the joint meeting between the House and Senate Leaders is a political event where silence is needed.

The Department guidelines also stated that the lawmakers should refrain from hugging or shaking hands with the pope, unless he will be the one to initiate it. Other than this, they are also expected to wear conservative clothes in dark colors for this occasion.

In case Pope Francis is the one who reaches out to the lawmakers, the latter can only shake his hand or kiss the ring on his right hand. 

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