WASHINGTON — Pope Francis will address member of Congress for the first time in a historic meeting on Sept. 24, according to reports. The Catholic leader was invited to address a joint meeting of American legislators by Speaker of the House John Boehner, who announced the news Thursday.
"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 told the Associated Press.
"In a time of global upheaval, the Holy Father's message of compassion and human dignity has moved people of all faiths and backgrounds," Boehner said in a statement. "We look forward to warmly welcoming Pope Francis to our Capitol and hearing his address on behalf of the American people."
Last March the speaker of the House invited the pontiff to visit the U.S., but details of the visit were only confirmed with the announcement. It will be the first time Pope Francis has visited the U.S. since his papacy began two years ago.
Although some House Democrats were reportedly upset that Boehner did not consult President Obama before extending the invitation, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said that both sides of the aisle are happy to meet with the Catholic leader.
"We are eager to welcome His Holiness to the U.S. Capitol and we look forward to hearing his call to live our values, to protect the poor and the needy, and to promote peace," she said in a statement.
The pope also will be breaking tradition this Thursday by hosting his second Google+ Hangout session. He will be using the broadcast service to talk to children from the U.S., Brazil, India and Spain about their aspirations.
"With the help of technology, Pope Francis will extend a virtual embrace to others around the world who have disabilities and special needs," Google stated on their blog.
The session will begin on Thursday at 10 a.m. EST.