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Politics & Government

Utahns in Congress Connected With Pope's Speech

House Speaker John Boehner's office
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner meets with the Pope during the pontiff's historic visit to the Capitol on Thursday. Four of the six Utahns in Congress watched the 52-minute address from the House Chamber.

Members of Congress might have been a little apprehensive going into Pope Francis’ speech Thursday because of the Catholic leader’s recent comments on issues that have been divisive in Washington. But at least a few members of Utah’s delegation to Congress were pleased with the historic address.

All six members of Utah’s delegation to Congress are Republicans and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but Pope Francis’ message resonated nonetheless.

Congressman Jason Chaffetz said he appreciated that the Pope avoided overt political tones and dwelled instead on shared values:

“Religious liberty, freedom, your ability to practice your religion, is something that’s part of the foundation of our nation and must be a pivotal part of us moving forward, and that certainly resonated today,” he told KUER, adding that he was honored to watch the address from the floor of the House of Representatives.

The Pope spoke of the moral obligation the world’s leaders have to take on climate change. And he emphasized the importance of protecting the world’s poor, who have the most to lose in the climate crisis. The Utahns didn’t mention that issue in their comments but highlighted instead the Pope’s remarks on religious liberty and the sanctity of life.

“He covered the whole gamut from the left to the right,” said" target="_blank">Sen. Orrin Hatch in a videotaped statement posted on YouTube. “But he also made it clear that we should honor life from the earliest possibilities of life on.”

Hatch greeted the Pope before and after the speech.

Congresswoman Mia Love watched from the House floor. She said in a statement: “He spoke about values that we hold dear in Utah, a land of freedom, faith and liberty.”

A statement from Congressman Chris Stewart said: "He provides strength and inspiration to so many around the world."

Rep. Rob Bishop did not attend the speech. And Sen. Mike Lee did not respond to KUER’s requests for comment prior to the newscast deadline. But, a few hours later, he was set to deliver a tribute on the Senate floor to the late LDS leader Elder Richard G. Scott, who died Tuesday.

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