Sen. Tim Kaine is a Catholic lawmaker who has a particularly broad vision for what he would like to hear from Pope Francis this week.
"If women are not accorded equal place in the leadership of the Catholic Church and the other great world religions, they will always be treated as inferiors in earthly matters as well," Kaine said in a statement. "There is nothing this Pope could do that would improve the world as much as putting the Church on a path to ordain women."
The Virginia Democrat spent a year away from law school with Jesuit missionaries in Honduras, and his thoughts about Thursday's visit of the first Jesuit pope to Capitol Hill are rooted in scripture.
"What we need to hear from the Pope is how leaders of all kinds — political, business, religious, military, etc. — should turn away from excesses of self-advancement and embrace the servant role that Pope Francis exemplifies so clearly," Kaine said in a statement provided to CQ Roll Call. "What I hope to hear from the Pope is an opening for the universal church to finally and fully embrace Galatians 3:28 — 'There is neither Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free, male nor female; all are one in Jesus Christ.’What I hope to hear from the Pope is an opening for the universal church to finally and fully embrace Galatians 3:28 — 'There is neither Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free, male nor female; all are one in Jesus Christ.'"
Kaine, who was student council president at an all-boys Jesuit high school in his younger years, also wrote an opinion piece in Wednesday's Richmond Times-Dispatch about the significance of Pope Francis, who hails from Latin America, with respect to the Latino population in the United States.
"The pope's visit during Hispanic Heritage Month punctuates the anniversary and reminds us that our nation has had Hispanic roots from its very first days. This timing is propitious," Kaine wrote. "The dialogue in the current presidential campaign too often suggests that Hispanic immigration is a new and dangerous phenomenon."
Kaine is one of a few fluent Spanish speakers in the Senate and the Virginian regularly communicates in the language.
"And the Pope's addresses — many to be delivered in Spanish — will remind us that the Spanish language has been a part of this country since long before our founding. Recently Sarah Palin instructed Presidential candidates and new immigrants to “Speak American.” Since 1565, to speak Spanish has been to speak American — a fact I noted when I delivered a speech in Spanish in the Senate to support immigration reform in June 2013," Kaine wrote. "Because Spanish and English are the second and third most common native languages in the world (after Mandarin Chinese) the increase of bilingual fluency in America is increasingly helpful in the global economy."
Pope Francis alluded to America's history as a nation of immigrants during the ceremony welcoming him to the White House Wednesday morning. It is widely expected the pope will have more to say about immigration during his speech to the joint meeting of Congress on Thursday.
"I am deeply grateful for your welcome in the name of all Americans. As the son of an immigrant family, I am happy to be a guest in this country, which was largely built by such families," Pope Francis said. "I look forward to these days of encounter and dialogue in which I hope to listen to and share many of the hopes and dreams of the American people."