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NJ Rep. Smith Leads Ten-Member Congressional Delegation To Vatican

Smith: 'It's An Honor And It's A Privilege'
Pope Francis delivers his Angelus prayer and blessing to the pilgrims gathered in St Peter’s Square on March 17, 2013 in Vatican City, Vatican. The Vatican is preparing for the inauguration of Pope Francis on March 19, 2013 in St Peter's Square. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Pope Francis delivers his Angelus prayer and blessing to the pilgrims gathered in St Peter’s Square on March 17, 2013 in Vatican City, Vatican. The Vatican is preparing for the inauguration of Pope Francis on March 19, 2013 in St Peter’s Square. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork)Pope Francis held his first formal Sunday Mass from St. Peter’s but will not be formally installed until later this week.

Vice President Joe Biden, a Catholic, will be leading the U.S. delegation to the Vatican to watch the investiture ceremony.

New Jersey Rep. Chris Smith will be leading the 10-member House delegation bound for Vatican City for the historic ceremony. Smith has called the new pontiff holy and wise ahead of his trip abroad.

“It’s an honor and it’s a privilege and I am grateful to Speaker [John] Boehner for tasking me to do this,” Rep. Smith told WCBS 880’s Jim Smith.

The Republican from Hamilton said he will meet with church officials to discuss his work to prevent human trafficking.

“Because the church has taken a leading role, particularly on the protection side, providing shelters for women who otherwise would be on the streets and abused,” Smith said.

The congressman said he is hoping to boost the outreach efforts for human rights.

“Pope Francis has such a heart for the disenfranchised and the weak,” Rep. Smith said.

Other members of the House delegation to the Vatican are Reps. Robert Aderholt (R-AL), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Sean Duffy (R-WI), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX), Jim Langevin (D-RI), Daniel Lipinski (D-IL), and Loretta Sanchez (D-CA).

The delegation returns to the U.S. on Wednesday. They will be flying commercial both ways because of the sequester.

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