Why Pope Francis Will Have No Time For Fist-Bumps on Capitol Hill

The pope will only spend a brief period of time in the capitol.

That means no congressional fist-bumps.

Leadership and the organizers behind the pope’s visit are employing a number of strategies to keep His Holiness on schedule, and have the well-orchestrated event that has been months in the making go off without a hitch.

“I'm really happy to have the pope come and visit us,” he said last week. “It's going to be one of the biggest events in the history of the Capitol, and members on both sides of the aisle and both sides of the Capitol are looking forward to it.”

A holdup could also rush his planned appearance on the West Front of the Capitol, where more than 40,000 people will be waiting to hear him speak briefly from the Speaker’s Balcony before departing Capitol Hill.

To that end, members won’t be allowed to leave the chamber until the pope leaves the Capitol.

Leadership has also selected members to sit along the center aisle of the House chamber to “create a physical zone of restraint” between members and the pope, according to Roll Call.

“I intend to go and sit in whatever seat is available,” said Engel. “It’s important to listen to him and hear what he has to say.”

“You remember it, it’s not someone you meet every day,” he said of meeting the pope. “Certain people stand out in history, and I suspect this will be the same thing.”

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Florida, a self-described "hugger and shaker of hands," joked that she'll sit far away from the pope "in order to resist temptation.'

"Members of Congress know how to behave themselves," she said. "I don't mind [the rules] because this is a huge event."