The Vatican has confirmed that Pope Francis will speak before the European Parliament in Strasbourg, on November 25th, during its plenary assembly.
The President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, who actually met with the Pope last year, in October, announced that the Pope had accepted his invitation.
The visit is being described as a symbolic gesture that's very significant, especially since Europe has become increasingly secular. German Cardinal Reinhard Marx, who serves s the President Bishops' Conferences of the European Community, welcomed the idea, adding that it will be a good way for the Parliament to remember its Christian roots.
November will be a busy month for the Pope. He is also tentatively scheduled to travel to Turkey at the end of November.
Back on October 8, 1988, John Paul II became the first Pope to speak before the European Parliament. At the time, the Berlin Wall still divided Germany and ultimately communism still divided Europe. Using symbolism, the Pope reminded the Parliament, that Europe should learn to breathe with two lungs, within one same body.
But the session did start off with an unexpected disturbance when parliament member, Ian Paisley from Northern Ireland, interrupted the Pope, yelling anti-papal slogans from the Protestant Reformation.
"I call you to order and I ask you to stop this disturbance.”
Eventually he was removed and the Pope continued his speech.