Pope Francis is expected to become the first pontiff to address a joint meeting of Congress when he visits the United States in September, House Speaker John Boehner said Thursday.
The Catholic leader is expected to begin a four-day trip to the United States on Sept. 20, with stops in Philadelphia, New York City and Washington, D.C. He will visit the U.S. Capitol on Sept. 24 to speak in front of a joint meeting of Congress.
Boehner shared the news via his Twitter account on Thursday.
The trip will be Francis’ first to the U.S. since he took control of the papacy from Pope Benedict XVI in March 2013. Since then, Francis has made significant rhetorical breaks with Catholic tradition. He has said the church cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptives. And he has asked, “Who am I to judge?” in response to reports of gay clergy members. His personal plea contributed to the thawing of more than five decades of tense U.S.-Cuban relations last year.
“The American people look forward to hearing Pope Francis’ call to love our neighbors and to find new and creative ways to meet the pressing needs of those who exist on the fringes of society,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement. “From the slums of Buenos Aires to St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis is moving the hearts of millions and inspiring a new generation with an engaging and compelling style.”
Earlier on Thursday, Francis spoke with seven children from around the world in his second digital “Google Hangout.” Despite his online efforts, he told the kids he is a “dinosaur” and “old-fashioned” when it comes to technology.