Pope Francis will be the first ever pontiff to address the US Congress, lawmakers in Washington have announced.
The Pope will make his historic speech on September 24, 2015.
“That day his holiness will be the first pope in our history to address a joint session of Congress,” said House Speaker John Boehner.
“I am very much looking forward to welcoming Pope Francis to the United States,” said President Barack Obama.
Around one in three members of Congress are Catholic, as are both the House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, and Republican John Boehner.
“We’re humbled that the Holy Father has accepted our invitation and certainly look forward to receiving his message on behalf of the American people,” said John Boehner.
Pope Francis’ trip to the US is expected to include a White House meeting with President Barack Obama.
In addition the pontiff is due to make a speech to the United Nations in New York and attend a Catholic rally in Philadelphia.
Pope Francis has not refrained from airing his political views since being elected head of the Catholic Church in March 2013.
He has made support for immigrants a key plank of papal policy.
The Pope has also taken a traditionally Catholic line on contraception and abortion.
Pope Francis’ views may put him at odds with members of Congress, which is riven by deep political divisions on these and other issues.
The first Pope to visit the US was Paul VI during a 1965 trip at the height of the Vietnam War.
[youtube i4-TyzVovVo 650]