Pope Francis will visit Washington, D.C. Sept. 22 to Sept. 25, the Archdiocese of Washington confirmed on Tuesday. President Obama hinted at what he expects to speak with Pope Francis when they meet in September at the White House, including poverty, climate change and conflict in the Middle East.
Obama said they will likely talk about reducing conflict and reducing war in the Middle East “where Christians have been viciously attacked.” Pope Francis has become a force in foreign policy, regularly speaking out against the persecution of Christians.
The leaders will also likely talk about climate change, Obama said in a new interview with the Wall Street Journal. Pope Francis is poised to weigh in on climate change with an encyclical this summer.
The following section is from the Journal’s interview released today.
Seib: What are you going to tell him? What do you expect he’s going to want to tell you?
Obama: Well, I’ve had the honor of meeting him already once, an extraordinary individual, I think, a transformative leader, not just within the Catholic Church but globally.
You know, in our last conversation, we spent a lot of time talking about issues of poverty and how we help the least of these across the globe, and I suspect that that’s a theme that he’s going to continue to be interested in. We’re going to talk about climate change, I’m sure, because he is very clear that part of the Church’s teachings and part of my faith is we have to be good stewards of this incredible planet that we have been given, and there are steps that can be taken there, and the vulnerabilities of the poorest of the poor when it comes to climate change if we don’t help deal with the issue.
And I think issues of war and peace. You know, he is somebody who rightly, I think, expresses concerns about reducing conflict and reducing war, including in the Middle East, where Christians have been viciously attacked. And we consult with the Church very closely about how we can protect religious minorities in some of these war zones.
The two are expected to meet on Sept. 23 at the White House, reunited since they first met in March 2014 at the Vatican. Pope Francis is also expected to celebrate an outdoor Mass at Catholic University on Sept. 23.
Plans for Francis’ visit also include an address to Congress on Sept. 24 and address to the United Nations on Sept. 25 in New York City. He is expected to celebrate an outdoor Mass in Philadelphia around the events of the World Meeting of Families.
Pope Francis is also planning to visit Cuba ahead of his trip to the United States.