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Pope Francis invited to address U.S. Congress

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Pope Francis just minutes after his election in 2013. Pope Francis just minutes after his election in 2013.
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Speaker of the House John Boehner, Republican of Ohio, has invited Pope Francis to come to Washington to speak to a joint meeting of Congress.

In a letter dated March 13, 2014, Boehner extended an "open invitation" to the pope to speak to America's lawmakers.

"Pope Francis has inspired millions of Americans with his pastoral manner and servant leadership, challenging all people to lead lives of mercy, forgiveness, solidarity, and humble service," Boehner said in a statement announcing the invitation. "The Holy Father's pastoral message challenges people of all faiths, ideologies and political parties. His address as a visiting head of state before a joint meeting of the House and Senate would honor our nation in keeping with the best traditions of our democratic institutions."

Boehner said in the statement that the pope's social teachings have spurred reflection and debate, "particularly among those who champion human dignity, freedom, and social justice."

Pope Francis spent his first anniversary as pontiff at a retreat with senior Vatican cardinals and monsignors, the AP reported.

"Please pray for me," he tweeted to his millions of followers who wished him well.

Click here to download and read the letter to the pope (PDF).

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