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Boehner passes on papal delegation invite from Biden

Citing his schedule and the coming budget debate, House Speaker John Boehner said Thursday that he will not accompany the U.S. delegation to Rome for the investiture of Pope Francis.

The delegation will be led by Vice President Joe Biden. Both men are the highest-ranking Catholic U.S. officials of their respective parties.

“I am grateful for the invitation to attend the papal investiture in Rome with Vice President Biden, and would like to be able to join the trip,” he said in a statement. “Unfortunately, my duties in the House next week - including hosting President Obama and the Prime Minister of Ireland at the Capitol on Tuesday, and the debate on the budget - make that impossible.” 

Asked by NBC yesterday about the election of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, Boehner congratulated the new Pope and praised the choice of a pontiff from outside Europe.

“I'm happy that they were able to come to a choice as quickly as they did,” he said. “I think that reaching out beyond the traditional continent of our church is another big step in the right direction for our church.”

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