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Speaker Boehner Invites Pope Francis To Address Congress

McClatchy Tribune News Service National News Politics

Speaker Boehner Invites Pope Francis To Address Congress


By Lisa Mascaro and Michael A. Memoli, Tribune Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — Speaker John A. Boehner has invited Pope Francis to deliver a joint address to Congress, in what would be the first such session by the head of the Catholic Church.

The invitation was made on the first anniversary of popular pope’s election, and meshes with efforts by Republicans to portray the party as more engaged on the issues of poverty and inequality that have been priorities for Pope Francis.

“Pope Francis has inspired millions of Americans with his pastoral manners and servant leadership,” wrote Boehner, a Roman Catholic, in the invitation letter, noting “his tireless call for the protection of the most vulnerable among us.”

Boehner noted that “these principles are among the fundamentals of the American idea. And though our nation sometimes fails to live up to these principles, at our best we give them new life as we seek the common good.”

The pope has not yet accepted the invitation, but the visit would not likely be until next year. This month President Barack Obama is traveling to Italy and will meet with the pope at the Vatican.

Congress occasionally convenes for joint meetings with the president and heads of state in the House chamber, but officials said a pope has never delivered such an address. Pope Benedict visited Washington in 2008.

Catholics remain an important voting bloc for both parties, coveted as a bellwether of the national mood.

In Congress, an estimated 160 lawmakers are Catholic, including Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) the minority leader, while more than half identify with a Protestant denomination, according to the Pew Research Religion and Public Life Project.

Photo: Catholic Church (England and Wales) via Flickr



  1. leadvillexp March 13, 2014

    I see nothing wrong with this as long as he invites other religious leaders to do the same. That means Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Wiccan, etc. You open the door to one religion, you have to open it to all. That is the First Amendment. It dosen’t prohibit celebrating religion but says all have to be treated the same. There is no restriction on public religion as long as all are treated the same including Atheists. Open the door to the Pope and you let the rest of us in.

  2. disqus_ivSI3ByGmh March 14, 2014

    The Pope is also a “visiting head of state”. We offer that same accord to others with that title. Of course, I bet his being there will get the Southern Baptist Republicans’ panties all in a bunch! I mean, after all, this guy is practically the Anti-Christ to them, with all of his pronouncements about caring for the poor.


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