Catholic Americans have been celebrating the upcoming arrival of Pope Francis in September since the announcement was made last year, but a more detailed update on the pope's plans reveal that he'll address congress in Washington D.C. on September 24.
This will make Pope Francis the first Catholic Church leader to ever address Congress and only the fourth pope to visit the United States.
"We are humbled that the Holy Father has accepted our invitation," House Speaker John Boehner said during his weekly press conference. "In a time of global upheaval, the Holy Father's message of compassion and human dignity has moved people of all faiths and backgrounds. His teachings, prayers, and very example bring us back to the blessings of simple things and our obligations to one another. We look forward to warmly welcoming Pope Francis to our Capitol and hearing his address on behalf of the American people."
Boehner, a Republican from Ohio, is himself Catholic, as is 31 percent of the members of Congress. The House Speaker said that he believes the pope's address will off "an excellent opportunity for the American people as well as the nations of the world to hear his message in full."
Pope Francis has already enjoyed popularity as a more progressive Catholic Church leader due to his lenient views on homosexuality and his full-fledged support of immigrants and the poor. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Francis "is moving the hearts of millions and inspiring a new generation with an engaging and compelling style."
In addition to the visit to Congress, Pope Francis is also scheduled to visit President Obama at the White House, speak at the United Nations, visit New York City, and participate in a Catholic Mass in Philadelphia.
Pope Francis is expected to talk in greater detail about a resolution for global warming, which the pope acknowledges is man-made. The visit to the U.S. is meant to act as a way to speak on the sensitive topic and urge all global leaders to work together for an environmental resolution in time for the next round of United Nations climate change talks later this year in Paris.
President Obama has already said that he's looking forward to the visit and spoke briefly about it in Thursday's National Prayer Breakfast. ""Like so many people around the world, I've been touched by his call to relieve suffering, and to show justice and mercy and compassion to the most vulnerable," the president said. "He challenges us to press on in what he calls our 'march of living hope.' And like millions of Americans, I am very much looking forward to welcoming Pope Francis to the United States later this year."
Many Independent and Democratic politicians are hoping that the pope's visit will help change the views of the traditionally Christian Republicans in the GOP-controlled House and Senate who oppose the pope's views on environmentalism and economic positions.
"Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world," said Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont in a tweet quoting the pope. "This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system."