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Welcoming His Holiness Pope Benedict Xvi On His First Apostolic Visit To The United States

Rep. Donald M. Payne

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Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and agree to the resolution (H. Res. 838) welcoming His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI on his first apostolic visit to the United States, as amended.

The Clerk read the title of the resolution.

The text of the resolution is as follows:

Whereas Joseph Alois Ratzinger ascended to the Papacy and chose the name Benedict XVI on April 19, 2005, becoming the 265th reigning Pope in the history of the Roman Catholic Church; Whereas he was born and baptized on April 16, 1927, in Marktl am Inn, Germany; Whereas he was required to leave seminary at the age of 16 and forced into military service for Nazi Germany; Whereas he risked grave danger by defecting from the Nazi anti-aircraft corps in 1945 and subsequently spent time in an Allied prisoner of war camp; Whereas he was ordained to the priesthood on June 29, 1951; Whereas he is a highly regarded theologian and scholar, having served in various university posts from 1959 until

Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Payne) and the gentlewoman from Florida (Ms. Ros-Lehtinen) each will control 20 minutes.

The Chair recognizes the gentleman from New Jersey.

Rep. Donald M. Payne

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Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members have 5 legislative days to revise and extend their remarks and include extraneous material on the resolution under consideration.

Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from New Jersey?

There was no objection.

Rep. Donald M. Payne

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Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of this resolution, and I yield myself as much time as I may consume.

I would first like to commend my distinguished colleague, Representative McCotter of Michigan, for introducing this timely and important measure.

Next week, His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, will make his first apostolic visit to the United States. It is appropriate that the House support H. Res. 838 in welcoming this distinguished leader of a church, which has more than 1 billion members worldwide.

During his 5-day visit, Pope Benedict will hold numerous meetings in Washington, DC, and New York City. His schedule includes a private conversation with President Bush, a candle lighting and prayer service at Ground Zero, and two widely anticipated masses--at the brand new Nationals Park and the venerable Yankee Stadium. He will be only the third person in history to address the United Nations General Assembly.

In addition to meeting U.S. bishops and Catholic groups, Pope Benedict will spend time with members of non-Christian faiths. In particular, he will meet with representatives of Jewish groups to acknowledge the start of Passover.

This practice is very much in keeping with Pope Benedict's stated emphasis on reconciliation and faith at the ecumenical level, as he has sought to foster dialogue with a range of religious groups.

And last but not least, during his visit to our country Pope Benedict will celebrate an important milestone, his 81st birthday.

Joseph Ratzinger was born and baptized on April 16, 1927, in Marktl am Inn, Germany. Forced to leave seminary at the age of 16 for compulsory military service with the Nazi anti-aircraft corps, he defected at great personal risk and spent time in an Allied prisoner of war camp.

In 1951, he was ordained to the priesthood, embarking on a career as one of the most prolific theologians in modern times. He served in numerous university posts, authored 25 books and thousands of hours of lectures, and participated as a theological adviser to the Second Vatican Council.

Before becoming Pope, he distinguished himself first as Archbishop of Munich and Freising, and then dean of the College of Cardinals, and finally as the Bishop of Rome.

He ascended to the Papacy on April 19, 2005. After nine apostolic visits in Europe and one to Brazil, the 265th pontiff is now traveling to the United States. It is with great pleasure that I welcome him to our country, the home of more than 66 million Catholics. I ask my colleagues to join me in support of this resolution.

Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

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Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, I also rise in support of H. Res. 838 extending this Chamber's welcome to Pope Benedict XVI who will be making his first visit to the United States next week in his role as leader of the Catholic Church.

Pope Benedict was elected to the Papacy just 3 years ago, succeeding Pope John Paul II, who had led the Catholic Church for close to three decades.

The Holy Father's visit provides an opportunity to reflect on his life and his teachings. Pope Benedict has devoted his life to his faith and to the promotion of peace. From his early days as a priest, he has also sought to inspire others to always search for the truth.

On May 28, 1977, over 30 years ago, he declared that his duty was to ``follow the truth and be at its service.'' On that occasion, he went on to say, ``In today's world the theme of truth is omitted almost entirely, as something too great for man, and yet everything collapses if truth is missing.''

Moreover, Pope Benedict has spent his years of service in the church in an effort to clarify the tenets of the Catholic faith. After serving as president of the commission that reviewed the Catholic Catechism, he presented a new Catechism to Pope John Paul II.

To date, he has written 25 books, which are now used as reference sources for many who are interested in a deeper study of theology. He served as the adviser of theological affairs to the Second Ecumenical Vatican Council, a gathering of great importance that was the largest in the church's history. This council adopted significant changes in the doctrines of the Catholic Church and its central legacy--its reforms--were meant to ensure that the heart of the church and its mission would be focused on helping people.

The council urged greater engagement by the church to elevate the dignity of all human life, to ease suffering, end poverty in needy countries, and to promote international peace. This council was also intent on encouraging reconciliation between those in the Catholic Church and those of other beliefs.

Since ascending to the Papacy in April of 2005, the Pope has advanced those doctrines in church affairs, particularly in inter-religious dialogue.

On September 7, 2007, Pope Benedict visited Austria, where he joined Jewish leaders in a silent tribute to the victims of the Nazi Holocaust, and he joined Vienna's chief rabbi in a memorial to the 65,000 Viennese Jews who perished in Nazi death camps.

During his time in the United States, he will visit the Park Street Synagogue in New York City and he will meet with Holocaust survivor Rabbi Arthur Schneier.

Monsignor David Malloy, general secretary of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said of this meeting: ``By this personal and informal visit, which is not part of his official program, His Holiness wishes to express his good will toward the local Jewish community as they prepare for Passover.''

In October of 2006, Pope Benedict met with the Dalai Lama in the Vatican. And when he visited Turkey, he prayed at the Blue Mosque, and he now plans to meet with Muslim scholars and religious leaders at a Catholic-Muslim seminar to be held later this year in Rome.

Pope Benedict has underscored his support for interfaith reconciliation with statements such as the following: ``If friendship with God becomes for us something even more important and decisive, then we will begin to love those whom God loves and who are in need of us. God wants us to be friends of his friends and we can be so.''

Mr. Speaker, Pope Benedict's wise words of inspiration, hope, and peace can serve to guide all of us. It is my pleasure to rise in support of this resolution welcoming His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to the United States.

Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

Rep. Donald M. Payne

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Mr. Speaker, I yield 4 minutes to the gentleman from Kentucky (Mr. Yarmuth).

Rep. John Yarmuth

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Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H. Res. 838 to welcome His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI on his first apostolic visit to the United States, and to honor a key reason for his visit: The bicentennial of the Archdiocese of Louisville.

Only Baltimore and New Orleans retain older Archdioceses than the four created by Pope Pius VII 200 years ago yesterday. It was on that day, April 8, 1808, that His Holiness created a diocese in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and Bardstown, Kentucky. To be Bishop in Bardstown, he tabbed an exile of the French Revolution, Benedict Joseph Flaget, a name revered in Louisville to this day.

Dubbed the ``First Bishop of the West,'' Bishop Flaget was responsible for an area that now covers more than 40 dioceses. He immediately led a spirited period of growth in the area, establishing numerous seminaries, churches, and schools where none had existed before. For many, these institutions provided the lone opportunity to pursue a quality education and reinforce one's faith.

And it was Bishop Flaget, in 1841, who moved the Bardstown diocese to the burgeoning city of Louisville. With the diocese at its core, a strong Catholic community grew in Louisville and in the surrounding areas; one united not only by a shared faith, but by a mutual moral sense of community, education and service.

That community grew and thrived for nearly a century, and in 1937 became the Archdiocese of Louisville as we know it today, now serving over a million people and 24 Kentucky counties. It was in service to the Archdiocese of Louisville that Thomas Merton, one of the most influential religious authors of the 20th century, had his legendary ``Louisville Epiphany'' that led to an impassioned and inspired quest for peace and social justice.

The Archdiocese of Lousiville also operates Catholic Charities of Louisville which offers countless services to people of all religious, ethnic, social, and economic backgrounds throughout our community. The efforts of Catholic Charities can be seen in every corner of Louisville, giving hope to disadvantaged youth, assisting the elderly, lending support to those who need help to stand on their own, and revitalizing neighborhoods that have fallen into disarray.

We also have the Archdiocese to thank for one of the truly outstanding parochial school systems in the Nation. For more than a century, and through every stage of a young person's development, Louisville's Catholic schools have helped to foster generations of great citizens, role models and leaders.

During my tenure representing Louisville in Congress, I have had the pleasure of serving alongside two Archbishops. Archbishop Thomas Kelly retired this past year after a quarter century defined by interfaith outreach, multi-cultural ministry, and a commitment to social services. Archbishop Joseph Kurtz now leads the Archdiocese, and in his first year, he has shown the leadership abilities and initiative to build upon the incredible foundation already in place in Louisville.

The theme for this year's bicentennial is ``Serving God's People: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.'' It is a fitting tribute to an institution that has always done and continues to do exactly that: Serve all of the people of the Louisville area through acts of faith, peace and kindness.

Extraordinary is nothing new for the Archdiocese of Louisville. Still an Apostolic visit to the United States from His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to mark the bicentennial is a recognition that will be forever treasured by our community. I join my colleagues in thanking and welcoming His Holiness to the United States of America, and know they join me in honoring the Archdiocese of Louisville on its bicentennial and thanking our Catholic community for two centuries of faith and service.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

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Mr. Speaker, I am proud to yield such time as he may consume to the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. McCotter) who is the author of this resolution.

Rep. Thaddeus McCotter

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Mr. Speaker, first I would like to thank Chairman Berman, Ranking Member Ros-Lehtinen, and all of the members of the Foreign Affairs Committee for bringing this resolution to the floor.

You know, I remember back when I was growing up there was a movie, and the movie was called ``A Hard Day's Night.'' This was at the height of Beatlemania, and the Beatles had obviously been wildly popular and well-received when they first hit our shores. And yet in the movie there is a scene where a reporter, seemingly unaware of this, asked John Lennon a question. And the question was this: ``How did you find America?''

And Lennon said, ``I turned left at Greenland.''

The point I bring this up for is quite simple. Today we hear many inane questions about how His Holiness will be received by the American people. How will America find the Pope? How will the Pope find America? Well, I think these questions are inane for a very simple reason: The United States understands the Holy Father because he advocates that we use faith and reason to find our way through these trying times and on to a transcendent Creator.

The United States, our revolutionary experiment in human freedom, was founded upon faith and reason. The Founders had the faith that they were playing a role in divine provenance, that they had rights that were endowed to them and inalienable by a Creator. And yet it was not passion alone that allowed for the founding of our free republic; they also used their reason to find their way to express how those rights could be guaranteed against government, and how individual citizens could live together with their rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

This is no different than the message that the Holy Father brings today. The Holy Father has said that faith and reason are concomitant blessings from God which allow us to find him not only in ourselves but in each other.

So as Americans await the Pope's first visit, I am not saying that there will be teenyboppers dropping in the streets as the popemobile passes, but I do say His Holiness will receive a warm reception from people who have understood and who continue to understand that faith and reason are gifts from God we squander at our own peril.

Rep. Michele Bachmann

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Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H. Res. 838, welcoming His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI on his first apostolic visit to the United States. For centuries, Popes have provided inspiration and a strong foundation of faith for millions of Catholics around the world and many non-Catholics as well. As spiritual leader of the Roman Catholic Church, the Pope serves as the impassioned defender of Catholic doctrine and values, a role this Pope has taken to new heights.

On April 19, 2005, Catholics everywhere were introduced to Pope Benedict XVI, and in just 3 years, the Pope has emerged as a vocal and effective advocate, combating what many see as the world's sloping trend towards secularism. Rather than steering the Catholic Church towards a more moderate and relaxed approach to worship, Pope Benedict XVI has demonstrated the benefit and need of returning to fundamental Christian values. Certainly, it is not easy for a leader to take such a bold stand that bucks popular trends and culture, but it is an example of pure conviction and true leadership that inspires millions of Catholic believers.

Mr. Speaker, I am honored to welcome Pope Benedict XVI to America as he continues to spread his message of faith, love, and service in Christ. Millions are inspired by his presence; and his passionate convictions cast a light that all Catholics strive to follow. Your Holiness, it is my honor to join in welcoming you to the United States.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

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Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.

Rep. Donald M. Payne

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Mr. Speaker, I have no further requests for time and I yield back the balance of my time.

The question is on the motion offered by the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Payne) that the House suspend the rules and agree to the resolution, H. Res. 838, as amended.

The question was taken; and (two-thirds being in the affirmative) the rules were suspended and the resolution, as amended, was agreed to.

A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.