A resolution welcoming the Pope to the United States was stalled in the U.S. Senate after Democrats said they would not vote on the resolution unless offending “pro-life language” was removed from it.The resolution was introduced on Tuesday by Republican Senator Sam Brownback and was co-sponsored by Democratic Senator Bob Casey, both Catholics.
The original text included, amongst a series of statements regarding the Holy Father’s biography and accomplishments, the statement, “Whereas Pope Benedict XVI has spoken out for the weak and vulnerable, witnessing to the value of each and every human life.”
Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer, however, disapproved of the wording of that part of the resolution, and demanded that the last ten words, “witnessing to the value of each and every human life”, be removed. Boxer and a number of colleagues delayed the vote for three days. In order to pass using the process of “hotlining,” which allows for a resolution or a bill to pass in a matter of minutes instead of weeks, the resolution welcoming Benedict required a unanimous vote.
One senior Republican leadership aide told FOX News, “What’s the problem with this? Does Sen. Boxer not value life? It speaks directly to the message the Pope delivered when he arrived here.”
Senator Boxer also disapproved of a part of the resolution that mentioned that the Pontiff, ” has spoken approvingly of the vibrance of religious faith in the United States, a faith nourished by a constitutional commitment to religious liberty that neither attempts to strip our public spaces of religious expression nor denies the ultimate source of our rights and liberties.”
In the end, however, Senator Brownback caved to the pressure from Boxer, and messaged his aides from the Mass at Nationals Stadium on Thursday, telling them to change the language of the resolution to meet Boxer’s demands. The bill was passed shortly therafter, reading only “Whereas Pope Benedict XVI has spoken out for the weak and the vulnerable.”
The section relating to religious faith in the United States was changed to say that Benedict XVI ”has spoken approvingly of the vibrance of religious faith in the United States, a faith nourished by a constitutional commitment to religious liberty.”
The passed resolution welcomes Benedict, acknowledging that “millions of Americans have discovered in Pope Benedict ‘s words a renewed faith in the power of hope over despair and love over hate.”
The resolution concludes, saying, “The Senate welcomes Pope Benedict XVI on the occasion of his first pastoral visit to the United States and recognizes the unique insights his moral and spiritual reflections bring to the world stage.”
The House passed a less controversial resolution welcoming the Holy Father on Wednesday.
A copy of the original resolution can be read here:
A copy of the revised resolution can be read here: