As recently as the 1920s, anti-Catholic sentiment was common in the United States. Less than 100 years later, with the current pope set to address a joint session of Congress, overzealous (presumably Catholic) elected officials are being warned to not touch Pope Francis as he makes his way to the House floor.
“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,” read a letter sent to every member of the House and Senate. The so-called “courtesy notice” was signed by the top four congressional leaders.
In fact, Congressional leadership is so worried about star-struck Catholic lawmakers attempting to reach the pontiff that they’ve taken some pretty ridiculous precautions, including assembling a team of Congressional bouncers to box out anyone trying to reach His Holiness. As Roll Call reports:
Each party is assembling teams of lawmakers to essentially act as blocking tackles, willing to restrain any of their colleagues intent on trying to reach out for a papal touch as he walks onto the floor of the House.
And after the historic speech, the doors to the cloakrooms and the hallways will be blocked — and in some cases, locked — to prevent lawmakers from leaving the chamber for perhaps half an hour, until Francis has appeared on a West Front balcony to greet the ticketed throng and then departed the Hill by motorcade.
Bill the Butcher must be rolling over in his grave…
(Source: Roll Call)