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Green Bay Mayor gets criticized for Pope invitation

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is calling the Green Bay Mayor's invitation to the Pope "utterly inappropriate."

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) - The Mayor of Green Bay is being criticized by a religious freedom group after writing a letter to Pope Francis asking him to visit the area

“It’s a violation of separation of church and state," said Freedom of Religion Foundation Co-President, Annie Laurie Gaylor.

Freedom From Religion Foundation wrote a letter to Mayor Jim Schmitt this week calling his actions “grossly inappropriate.”

But the mayor isn’t backing down.

“I have no regrets at all," said Mayor Jim Schmitt. 

In the letter, the Mayor asks the Pope to visit Green Bay in and make a pilgrimage to the Shrine of our Lady of Good Help.

The Pope has been rumored to visit the United States in 2015, during his World Meeting of Families.

“I know other communities; other mayors would be honored to host the Pope as we would any other head of state," said Mayor Schmitt.   

The Catholic Diocese of Green Bay would also like to see the Pope visit. 

They released this statement to Local 5 News: “It would be wonderful if Pope Francis came to Green Bay.  Let’s wait to hear how the Holy Father responds to the Mayor’s letter.”

Mayor Schmitt is vocal about being Catholic and even begins each city council meeting with invocation.  That’s something the Madison-based religious freedom group says oversteps his boundaries as an official.

“It is disappointing to see him continue to mistake his personal religious views for his official views as mayor,”  Gaylor.

The mayor even started a petition to draw in support. 

So far more than 2,000 people have signed. 

“I think it would be great for everyone; Christians, non-Christians, Catholics, non-Catholics," said Schmitt.

The letter from Freedom from Religion is attached to this article.

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