Senator Chuck Grassley

Senator Chuck Grassley

Hundreds of Iowa Catholics will soon be boarding buses bound for Washington D.C. or Philadelphia to see Pope Francis when he speaks in those cities later this week.

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley will have a good seat as the pope is scheduled to address a joint session of Congress on Thursday at the U.S. Capitol, following a visit to the White House tomorrow.

“I’m going to be in the House chamber on Thursday, very attentive to him and very cordial,” Grassley says. “I hope he will be treated appropriately and I hope it’s not one of these things where you get all of these standing ovations and it turns out to be something like a political event, like when a president speaks.”

Grassley says he’s already had “the good fortune” to meet a previous pope on the White House lawn in 1979, the same year Pope John Paul also visited Iowa.

He notes, such visits are always a big event. “The pope is head of state in the sense that the Vatican is a recognized state,” Grassley says, “but he is a religious leader and he ought to be treated with respect that’s different from what political leaders are shown when they come here.”

Grassley identifies himself as a Baptist and says while there is “great disagreement” between Baptists and Catholics, “on the basics, there’s no disagreement.” He adds, “I like to emphasize where we agree.”