Congress crosses line with pope address

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, a Roman Catholic, confirmed today that Pope Francis will address Congress on Sept. 24 — the first time a religious leader who serves as a head of state has addressed a joint session.

“It will be a historic visit, and we are truly grateful that Pope Francis has accepted our invitation,” gushed Boehner in a statement today. “In a time of global upheaval, the Holy Father’s message of compassion and human dignity has moved people of all faiths and backgrounds.”

FFRF had previously reproved Boehner and U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, also Catholic, who sent a joint invitation to the pope in March. FFRF objected on compelling and cogent grounds that such an event would blur the lines between religion and government. FFRF invoked America’s first Roman Catholic president, as candidate, saying: “I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute, where no Catholic prelate would tell the president (should he be Catholic) how to act.” We cited the “exorbitant price tag” such an event would incur for the American public, and the appearance of preference for Roman Catholicism over other religions, and religion over non-religion. FFRF also re-lodged its complaint following The New York Times expose about Pope Francis’ decision to harbor papal nuncio Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, 66, who stands accused of using impoverished Dominican Republic minors for sex.

FFRF respectfully urged the Congressional pair to rescind the invitation and instead “call for hearings into severing ambassadorial ties to the Vatican, and investigating the Vatican Embassy’s alleged role in covering up systemic Catholic crimes against minors.”

Secularists are in for it as our country prepares to go into a pope-mania paroxysm. The pope is also stopping in Philadelphia and New York City. FFRF is glad to report that he so far has resisted the advances of the Catholic mayor of Green Bay, Wis. FFRF chided the mayor for his over-the-top religious invitation on city letterhead and time to the pope to come visit a Virgin Mary Shrine.

This invitation to address Congress comes at a critical juncture when the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is leading the fight against Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate. The church is not only against legal abortion but accessible contraception, is fighting death with dignity measures and marriage equality.

The last person Congress needs advice from is the pope! Why not invite Richard Dawkins instead? How about injecting a little reason and science into the political debate.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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