By Darryl R. Isherwood | March 15th, 2013 - 2:58pm
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U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-4) has been tasked by the Speaker of the House to lead the Congressional Delegation to the Vatican for the investiture of Pope Francis I.

“It is an honor to lead this bipartisan group of House members to this international event,” said Smith, who chairs the House Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations Subcommittee. “The world is a challenging place, in terms of wars and peace, basic human rights and freedoms. The Holy Father has a major role to play in global affairs. I wish him well as he begins his pontificate and am honored to be a part of this historic occasion. The Pope is more than a spiritual leader for the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, he is an inspiration of holiness and goodness, and above all, the faithful proclamation of the Gospel.”

The delegation also will include  Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Sean Duffy (R-WI), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX), Jim Langevin (D-RI), Daniel Lipinski (D-IL), and Loretta Sanchez (D-CA).

 In selecting Smith, Speaker John Boehner said:  “I’m pleased Congressman Smith and this bipartisan group of Members will join the Vice President in communicating the prayers and warm regards of the American people to Pope Francis as he begins his papacy.”

While in Rome, Smith plans to meet with Vatican officials to discuss human rights issues, including human trafficking, religious freedom and culture of life issues. He expects to meet with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State, The Vatican; Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace; Cardinal Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, and two of the top U.S. prelates, New York City’s  Cardinal Timothy Dolan and Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley.

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