Pope to address Congress, meet Raul Castro on trip to US, Cuba

Thursday, 2 July 2015 01:19 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

downloadPope Francis conducts a mass before presenting palliums to Archbishops in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican 29 June, 2015 – REUTERS

VATICAN CITY (Reuters): Pope Francis will address a joint session of the US Congress, the first pope to do so, on his much anticipated 19-27 September trip to Cuba and the United States and meet Cuban president Raul Castro in Havana, the Vatican said on Tuesday.

His itinerary includes stops in Havana, where he meets Castro on 20 September, Holguin and Santiago in Cuba before going to Washington DC, New York and Philadelphia. He will meet with US President Barack Obama at the White House on 23 September.

Under Francis, the first pope from Latin America, the Vatican mediated last year’s resumption of diplomatic ties between Washington and Havana after more than half a century.

In New York, he will address the United Nations, participate in an inter-religious service at the Ground Zero site of the 11 September 2001 attack on the World Trade Centre and meet immigrants and their children at a school in Harlem.

He will spend the last two days of the trip in Philadelphia to close the World Meeting of Families, an international Catholic gathering that takes place in a different city every three years. He will also visit the Curran-Fromhold prison.

Francis leaves on Sunday for Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay.