Congress Awaiting Rules on How They Should Behave Around the Pope


Pope Francis’s September visit to the United States will include a joint address to both houses of Congress, which means means Congress has less than two months to figure out how to behave around the Pope. Somebody get Henry Higgins on the phone so we don’t look like a passel of complete yahoos!

Bloomberg Businessweek addresses the matter. For one thing, how will a room containing plenty of climate change deniers respond to a speech that will probably include some mention of climate change? Can’t wait for those reaction shots.

But even if everybody leaves their partisanship at home, are they even entirely clear on proper behavior in this situation? “For a lot of members—they’re Americans, you know, and appropriate courtesy is not necessarily their cup of tea,” said Florida Democrat Alcee Hastings. You say that like it’s weird to call Queen Elizabeth “Old Gal” or something. But, but: “The House may be an inherently cantankerous institution,” said Arizona Republican David Schweikert, but “when it’s time to step up and follow protocol, for the most part, we do a pretty good job.”

Plus they’ll be getting specially drawn-up guidelines sometime soon, said a House chaplain, and a Vatican official told the magazine that American bishops are working on these guidelines in partnership with John Boehner’s office. Boehner is the one who invited Pope Francis, so presumably there’ll be a distinct undercurrent of “For fuck’s sake don’t embarrass me here.”

In the meantime, if anybody’s confused, just maybe don’t hug the guy. “No one is supposed to approach him without an invitational gesture. But experts say it’s unlikely he’ll enter the center aisle without reaching out to some lawmakers,” according to Bloomberg Businessweek.

In short: Be cool. Just be cool.

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Image via AP.

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