Pope Francis First Religious Leader to be Invited to Address Joint Session of Congress
When Pope Francis speaks before a joint session of Congress on September 24, he will become the first religious leader to do so.
The U.S. Congress has invited dozens of world leaders and prominent political figures to address U.S. lawmakers. But religious authority figures have never before had the honor.
The list of individuals who have spoken before Congress includes everyone from King Kalakaua of Hawaii in 1874 to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in April of this year. In 1960, French President Charles de Gaulle gave a speech, and in 1992 it was Russian president Boris Yeltsin. Polish labor union leader Lech Walesa delivered an address in 1989, while British Prime Minister Winston Churchill proved so popular that he was invited to speak on three occasions—1941, 1943 and 1953.
Pope Francis is expected to speak to lawmakers in both Spanish and English because he “is not fully comfortable in English,” according to The Washington Post.
While the Pope’s first, and possibly only, visit to the U.S. will include many stops beyond the U.S. Congress, Capitol Hill will be working overtime in maneuvering and manipulating the logistics of this single event, according to the Post’s Michelle Boorstein. “Which presidential candidate gets close and who doesn’t? How much time should he spend in Boehner’s office and with whom? Will lawmakers stand and clap for lines they support and remain seated for those they oppose? Those are all elements under discussion. The lobbying for access will continue until the last moment.”
-Danny Biederman, Noel Brinkerhoff
To Learn More:
An Exclusive Look at the Draft Schedule for Pope Francis’s U.S. Trip This Fall (by Michelle Boorstein, Washington Post)
Pope Will Address Congress in September (by Jake Sherman, Politico)
Joint Meeting & Joint Session Addresses Before Congress by Foreign Leaders & Dignitaries (U.S. House of Representatives)
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