Pope Francis I can set a good example for us, says Congress

2:41 PM, Mar 13, 2013   |    comments
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Catalina Camia and Susan Davis, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON -- For one day at least, the election of a new pope has brought together members of Congress regardless of their party or religion.

Their good wishes about Pope Francis - the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, archbishop of Buenos Aires - spilled out on Capitol Hill via news releases and Twitter feeds. Some House Republicans heard about the new pope from President Obama, who announced the news during their closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill, according to Rep. Michael Grimm, R-N.Y.

The election of a new pontiff with so many historic firsts to his credit even raised the possibility that the fractious Congress might learn a thing or two from the Vatican conclave as it deals with the federal budget.

"I'm looking for a little white smoke out of the Capitol here by the end of the summer," said Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, as he emerged from a Senate Budget Committee hearing.

Rep. Tim Ryan, an Ohio Democrat who is Catholic, said on Twitter that he is hopeful Pope Francis "guides the Catholic Church in a direction underscored by greater inclusion and equality in the world."

Another Catholic, GOP Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, essentially live tweeted the announcement to his 353,521 followers once the white smoke was seen at the Vatican. He began with the Latin phrase "habemus papus," which signals the election of a new pope.

Sen. Charles Schumer, the No. 3 Democratic leader who is Jewish, sent his good wishes via Twitter. "Overjoyed for Catholics everywhere and hopeful that Pope Francis will help foster peace and spirituality across the globe," the New York senator said.

Bergoglio is the first pope from Argentina, which sparked at least one reference to a scandal by an American politician. Scott English, former chief of staff to ex-South Carolina governor Mark Sanford, tweeted: "See, nobody complains when the College of Cardinals goes to Argentina."

That is an indirect reference to Sanford's extramarital affair with an Argentine journalist, who the fiancee of the congressional candidate.

(Contributing: Alan Gomez, Jackie Kucinich)

USA TODAY

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