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No handshakes for the Pope's visit to Congress

Posted: 7:48 PM, Sep 21, 2015
Updated: 2015-09-21 23:48:21Z
Congressional leaders are telling lawmakers there will be no handshakes and no chatting with Pope Francis or other dignitaries when the pope enters the House chamber on Thursday for his historic speech to Congress.
 
In a letter to House and Senate members, they're asking lawmakers to refrain from "handshakes and conversations along and down the center aisle.
   
The pontiff will be on a tight schedule Thursday, and congressional leaders want to avoid anything that could slow him down, such as members of Congress shaking hands with the chief of one of the departments or greeting a Supreme Court justice or even the pontiff himself.
 
The pope is scheduled to arrive at the Capitol shortly after 9 a.m. EDT, meet with House Speaker John Boehner, then address a joint meeting of Congress in the House chamber at 10 a.m. Vice President Joe Biden, diplomats, justices and Cabinet members are expected in a jam-packed chamber.
 
After his speech, the pope will appear on the Capitol balcony facing the Mall, an appearance that could draw tens of thousands on the West Lawn.
 
In total, Francis is to be in the Capitol for 90 minutes.