One week from today – Thursday, September 24 – Pope Francis will address a joint meeting of Congress. It is the first time in history a Pope will take part in this tradition, which dates back to 1824. As you can imagine, preparations have been underway for months, dating back to when Speaker Boehner first announced the Pope’s visit in February. All the background on how this came together is at speaker.gov/pope.
For this joint meeting, we’ll be doing a lot we’ve never done before, starting with broadcasting the speech live to members of the public on the West Front of the Capitol, where the Pope is expected to make a brief appearance. Looking for information on how you can be in the crowd? Just go to speaker.gov/pope.
Typically, we livestream joint meetings, but in addition, we will also be sharing behind-the-scenes photos and videos as the morning unfolds. All of this, too, will be available at speaker.gov/pope.
In the days leading up to the address, we will be sending out exclusive content about the final preparations for the Pope’s address, and you can get on the list by signing up at speaker.gov/pope.
We’ve also put in place stronger security protocols to keep everyone safe that day. For information on that and what roads will be closed, visit speaker.gov/pope.
Response to the Pope’s visit has been overwhelming, not only from the public, but from the people who work in and around the Capitol every day. We’ve created a new group of staff volunteers to make sure the public has the best possible experience. Learn more about what CNN calls our ‘mini-army’ at speaker.gov/pope.
All of this started with Speaker Boehner, who’s been working to bring a Pope to the Capitol for more than 20 years. This New York Times story takes you back even further:
“For Mr. Boehner, a visit from the pope is the culmination of a religious honor that he would never have expected, in the context of a job he could never have dreamed about as a child. Mr. Vanden Eynden, the speaker’s childhood friend, recalled daily Mass during the school week: ‘There were the little old ladies and us.’ The two boys rolled up papers together at 2 a.m. for their Sunday paper route, and then zipped off for 5:30 a.m. Mass before delivering them. ‘We would sit up in the balcony because we were not dressed for church,’ Mr. Vanden Eynden said.”