During his more than 20 years in Congress, House Speaker John Boehner has invited three Popes to address the legislative body. The Catholic politician's persistence finally paid off when Pope Francis accepted his request.
SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE (USA)
'I think there's a lot of interest in what the Pope is saying. His outreach to the poor, the fact that people ought to be more religious.â?
On September 24th, Pope Francis will address both the House and Senate, which is referred to as a joint session of Congress. He will be the first Pope to do so, and he'll join a long list of world leaders who have spoken in that forum.
Winston Churchill gave three different addresses to joint sessions of Congress, and Nelson Mandela did it twice. The Polish solidarity leader Lech WaÅ?Ä?sa spoke before Congress in 1989. Dozens of other heads of state have done so, as well. Recently, the presidents of Japan, Israel, and Ukraine gave speeches that received national attention.
But Pope Francis' address has generated more interest than any other in years. In fact, there is so much demand that House leaders have had to crack down on who can enter, tightening security even more than usual.
Only members of Congress, the President, Vice President, Supreme Court Justices, Cabinet Secretaries, and other top officials are allowed inside. Each member of Congress has been given one ticket for members of the public to see the speech in a nearby room. Thousands of people have received tickets to watch the speech outside.
Speaker Boehner said that although some of the Pope's views are controversial in Congress, the entire body is still excited. After all, he said, 'It's the Pope!â?
White House/John Boehner