Pope Francis will meet the homeless, immigrants and prisoners as well as President Obama, and become the first pope to address Congress when he visits the U.S. in September, the Vatican announced Tuesday.
The Sept. 19-28 visit will take Francis to Cuba and the U.S., where he will visit Washington, New York and Philadelphia.
The pope arrives in Washington on Tuesday, Sept. 22. He’ll meet Obama the next day and address Congress and meet the homeless at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church on Sept. 24. He then heads to the U.N. in New York for a meeting on sustainable development, to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum for a multifaith service, and to a school in Harlem. Francis has been outspoken about his concern for the environment.
In Philadelphia, where he arrives Sept. 26, Francis will head to the World Meeting of Families and also host a “meeting for religious liberty” with immigrants and Hispanics on Independence Mall.
The Associated Press adds: “U.S. Catholic bishops have for years decried what they say are attacks on religious liberty, particularly over national health care laws that require insurance coverage for contraception. The bishops’ latest rallying cry has come in the wake of the Supreme Court decision declaring that same-sex marriage is legal nationwide.”
Francis, the Vatican says, will celebrate Mass at the World Meeting of Families on Sept. 27. That event, the AP reports, is expected to attract 1.5 million people.
Prior to arriving in the U.S. Francis will visit Cuba, where he will celebrate Mass in Havana’s Revolution Square. He’ll also travel to Holguin, and pray before the Virgin of Charity of Cobre, the patron of Cuba, and meet families in Santiago.