A resolution in the U.S. Senate welcoming Pope Benedict XVI on his first papal visit to the United States was held up on Thursday by a senator who allegedly objected to wording praising how the Pope values “each and every human life,” the Politico reports. Language about American religious faith not denying the “ultimate source” of rights and liberties was also dropped.
The resolution passed with a voice vote on Thursday afternoon after the language was removed.
"There was some politics involved here, and the objectionable language has been withdrawn," a senior Democratic Senate aide said.
According to the Politico, three Republican Senate aides claim that Senator Barbara Boxer, a Democrat representing California, objected to the resolution’s language about human life. Reportedly, some Democrats saw the “life” language as an implicit reference to the Catholic Church’s opposition to abortion.
The original bill’s preamble, which listed reasons for adopting the bill, included the sentence, “Whereas Pope Benedict has spoken out for the weak and the vulnerable, valuing each and every human life…” The modified sentence reads only “Whereas Pope Benedict has spoken out for the weak and the vulnerable…”
The sponsor of the resolution, Kansas Republican Senator Sam Brownback, reportedly used his Blackberry while at the Papal Mass at Nationals Park to instruct his staff to drop the language. Republican aides say that Brownback, a devout Catholic convert, did not want a high profile fight over the resolution.
"We are very pleased we were able to reach an agreement with Senator Brownback to remove the political language and pass this resolution welcoming Pope Benedict," Natalie Ravitz, a spokeswoman for Senator Boxer, told the Politico.
According to copies of the documents posted on Politico, a section of the resolution referencing both the “ultimate source” of American rights and liberties and religious expression on public buildings was also dropped.
A section of the resolution’s preamble originally read:
“Whereas Pope 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 that neither attempts to strip our public spaces of religious expression nor denies the ultimate source of our rights and liberties…”
The phrases about attempts to strip public spaces of religious expression and about denials of the “ultimate source” of American rights and liberties were cut from the final resolution.