WASHINGTON -- House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), himself a Catholic, has invited Pope Francis to be the first head of the Roman Catholic Church to address a joint session of Congress.
Francis has accepted. The speech is scheduled for September 24, Boehner announced on Thursday.
“That day, His Holiness will be the first pope in our history to address a joint session of Congress,” the speaker told reporters. “We’re humbled that the Holy Father has accepted our invitation and certainly look forward to receiving his message on behalf of the American people.”
Boehner has come under fire in recent weeks for extending the same invitation to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, without first informing his Democratic colleagues in the Congress or the White House.
Netanyahu's March 3 speech will also be historic: He will be the second foreign leader to address Congress three times, alongside Winston Churchill of the United Kingdom.