White House: Francis to visit Sept. 23 to discuss poverty, immigration

Rome — The White House announced Thursday that it is planning to welcome Pope Francis for a visit with U.S. President Barack Obama on Sept. 23 and that the two leaders are expected to discuss issues of poverty, economic development, environmental stewardship and immigration.

Francis will be making the stop at the executive branch as part of his apostolic visit to the U.S., expected to occur around the dates of Sept. 22-27.

Welcoming the pope in a brief press statement Thursday, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the president and the pope during the meeting "will continue the dialogue, which they began during the President's visit to the Vatican in March 2014, on their shared values and commitments on a wide range of issues."

Among the issues listed by Earnest: "Caring for the marginalized and the poor; advancing economic opportunity for all; serving as good stewards of the environment; protecting religious minorities and promoting religious freedom around the world; and welcoming and integrating immigrants and refugees into our communities."

The pope will be visiting three U.S. cities in September, starting with Washington before heading to New York and Philadelphia. The pope is on Sept. 24 to address a joint session of Congress, a first for a pontiff, before addressing the U.N. in New York on Sept 25.

Francis will also be attending the World Meeting of Families, a Catholic event being held this year in the Philadelphia archdiocese from Sept. 22-27.

The Vatican is yet to confirm the final dates and commitments for the pope's U.S. trip.

In a press conference on the papal plane in January, Francis said he had wanted also to visit the U.S.-Mexico border but was not sure if arrangements could be made.

The pope also announced on the papal plane that during the trip he is planning to canonize 18th-century Franciscan Fr. Junipero Serra, a controversial figure known for founding many of the California missions. 

[Joshua J. McElwee is NCR Vatican correspondent. His email address is jmcelwee@ncronline.org. Follow him on Twitter: @joshjmac.]

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