Pope Will Address US Congress in Sept

Pope Will Address US Congress in SeptPope Will Address US Congress in Sept

Pope Francis will bring his message of peace and compassion to politically gridlocked Washington in September when he becomes the first pontiff to address the US Congress, lawmakers said Thursday.

Francis, who is also expected to meet US President Barack Obama, will speak before members of the Senate and House of Representatives on September 24 after finally accepting an invitation extended in March last year.

“His holiness will be the first pope in our history to address a joint session of Congress,” House Speaker John Boehner told reporters, AFP reported.

The 78-year-old pontiff confirmed late last year that he would visit the US in September to take part in a Catholic Church congress in Philadelphia. He will also address the United Nations in New York.

“I am very much looking forward to welcoming Pope Francis to the United States later this year,” Obama, who was received by the pontiff at the Vatican last March, said at Thursday’s National Prayer Breakfast in Washington.

The pope is hugely popular in the US, with a Pew poll in December showing 78 percent of Americans have a favorable view of Francis.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, said lawmakers were “honored and overjoyed that Pope Francis, the first pontiff born in the Americas, has accepted our invitation.”

The news comes as dozens of Democratic senators said on Wednesday that they are considering boycotting an upcoming speech to Congress by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to protest the decision by House Republicans to disregard protocol and invite the foreign leader without the involvement of the White House.