Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Mormon, says he's an unabashed fan of Roman Catholic Pope Francis.
"We sure do like this new pope," Reid gushed to the The New York Times
The veteran Democrat acknowledges that he can profess his admiration even though he's "had dealings" with Cardinal Raymond Burke
, a powerful Roman Catholic leader who's been demoted twice from key positions by the pope.
"How about Burke? They've demoted him twice," Reid noted with a chuckle, The Times reports. "You know, I've had dealings with Burke."
Reid told The Times that he spent hours with Burke in Missouri after the funeral of former Democratic Sen. Thomas Eagleton, blurting out an embarrassing anecdote about Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill's distaste for the once-powerful Burke.
"After the funeral, we went to his home; I don't know what it's called," Reid told The Times. "A very nice place. And we talked about nothing. Now, Claire McCaskill and others just hate the man."
Reid's dishy tale about McCaskill came the same day the Missouri senator declined to vote for Reid for Democratic leader.
But Reid said he's got no problems with the conservative prelate.
"I said, 'What do you do with all your time?'" Reid recalled. "'I pray a lot.' That's what I remember about the conversation."
Smiling, Reid, who lives in Searchlight, Nev., then declared to The Times: "He's basically ambassador to Searchlight now."
Reid isn't the only congressional Francis fan.
In March, House Speaker John Boehner invited the pontiff
to address a joint session of Congress.
Pope Francis will visit the United States
for the first time next September, and is expected to visit Philadelphia and New York.
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