L'Osservatore Romano, pool / AP

Pope Francis to address US Congress Sept. 24

Francis 1st pope to address Congress; visit to follow encyclical on environment, a tense issue for many US conservatives

Pope Francis will address a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress on Sept. 24, becoming the first pontiff to do so.

House Speaker John Boehner made the announcement at a news conference, then issued a statement expressing gratitude that the pope had accepted his invitation to appear before a joint meeting of the House and Senate.

The pope is scheduled to make his first papal visit to the United States this fall, with other stops in New York and Philadelphia as well as Washington, D.C.

His scheduled visit will take place on the heels of the summer release of his encyclical on ecology, a letter that will address climate change and its impact on the poor. 

The encyclical, whose contents are yet unknown, has already garnered heavy criticism among conservatives in the U.S. who believe Francis is allying himself with a radical environmentalist agenda. 

Siding with environmental protection advocates is, in some conservative circles, "tantamount to condemning the values of the right," wrote Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig, a Ph.D. student in religion and critical thought at Brown University.

Al Jazeera and The Associated Press

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