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US Lawmakers: Pope Francis Wrong to 'Legitimize' Palestinians

US Lawmakers: Pope Francis Wrong to 'Legitimize' Palestinians
(Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images)

By    |   Thursday, 14 May 2015 08:46 AM

The Vatican’s announcement Wednesday that it would formally recognize a Palestinian state has drawn the ire of many lawmakers on Capitol Hill who say Pope Francis should stick to faith and morals and stay out of politics, Politico reports.

The Holy See’s plans to sign a treaty recognizing the "state of Palestine" lends "significant symbolic weight" to the Palestinians' bid for international recognition in spite of the region's standoff with Israel, according to The New York Times.

"The Vatican is not just a state," senior Palestinian foreign affairs official Husam Zomlot told the Times. "The Vatican represents hundreds of millions of Christians worldwide, including Palestinians, and has vast moral significance."

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is scheduled to visit Pope Francis on Saturday, the day before the church canonizes two Palestinian nuns, according to CNN.

South Carolina Rep. Jeff Duncan, who Politico characterizes as a "hawkish defender of Israel," told the website he’s "disappointed" by the Vatican’s decision.

"Now the Pope is legitimizing a Palestinian state without requiring those who get recognition to recognize Israel as a Jewish state," Duncan said, adding that the Vatican "ought to be working to lead people to Jesus Christ and salvation" instead of meddling in politics.

Arizona Rep. Trent Franks, who chairs the Israel Allies Caucus, went further, saying the pope has a right to his opinions "but someone of that profile should have strong scriptural foundation for whatever positions he takes that are extensively representing the head of the Catholic Church."

"I think this is probably one he should not have expressed," Franks added, postulating that the Pope may not be "fully apprised of the circumstances out there."

Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert, a member of the Israel Allies Caucus, expressed dismay that the leader of the Catholic Church "would recognize Palestine when they’re still haters who want to eliminate Israel off the map and don’t recognize Israel."

"The Pope is the head of his religion, and he makes those calls for himself, but I represent 700,000 people from East Texas and a vast majority agree with me," he said.

Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi told CNN that the Holy See has referred to Palestine as a state since November 2012 — under the tutelage of Pope Benedict XVI — when the United Nations voted to recognize it as a nonmember observer state, though the treaty announced Wednesday is the first legal document acknowledging formal recognition.

The Vatican has long advocated a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians.

Pope Francis has accepted an invitation from House Speaker John Boehner, who is Catholic, to address Congress later this year.

Kansas Rep. Tim Huelskamp, also Catholic, told Politico that he hopes the pontiff’s address will stick to "issues [where] he can make a difference — the 'nonnegotiables' — like abortion, same-sex marriage and the like."

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The Vatican's announcement Wednesday that it would formally recognize a Palestinian state has drawn the ire of many lawmakers on Capitol Hill who say Pope Francis should stick to faith and morals and stay out of politics, Politico reports.
pope, palestine, state, lawmakers, us, israel
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Thursday, 14 May 2015 08:46 AM
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