Pope Francis is set to become the first leader of the Catholic church to address both chambers of Congress, during his trip to the US later this year.
House speaker John Boehner said on Thursday that the pope will visit the US Capitol in Washington on 24 September, where he is scheduled to be the first pope to address a joint meeting of Congress. “It will be a historic visit, and we are truly grateful that His Holiness has accepted our invitation,” Boehner said in a statement.
“In a time of global upheaval, the Holy Father’s message of compassion and human dignity has moved people of all faiths and backgrounds. His teachings, prayers, and very example bring us back to the blessings of simple things and our obligations to one another.
In extending the original invitation to Pope Francis last year Boehner said (ABC News reported):
His social teachings, rooted in ‘the joy of the gospel,’ have prompted careful reflection and vigorous dialogue among people of all ideologies and religious views in the United States and throughout a rapidly changing world, particularly among those who champion human dignity, freedom, and social justice.
The delightful PoliticsUSA (“Bernie Sanders Unveils A 12 Point Economic Plan To Break The Koch Oligarchs”) exults, framing the story in a way that suggests Boehner had not expected the pope would accept the invitation. That, I imagine, is wrong, but it’s not difficult to guess why PoliticsUSA might like the idea of the platform given to what it describes as “the environmental and climate change and care-for-Creation and care-for-the-poor Pope.”
As to what the pope will say, we’ll just have to see. I note that his encyclical on the environment will have been released a month or so before.