In case your were hiding under a rock the last few days, Pope Francis was in North America on a whirlwind tour of Cuba, Washington D.C., New York, and Philadelphia. In Washington, he would meet another prominent Catholic, Speaker of the House John Boehner, who would stun the political scene with a surprise announcement of his resignation.
The Pope’s first stop in the U.S. was Washington, D.C. where he was welcomed by President Obama at the White House. He also made a rare address for a foreign head of state to a joint session of Congress. He spoke about subjects dear to those on the left such as climate change and social justice, but also those supported by those on the right such as the right to life, from conception to natural death. He also called for an end to the death penalty.
While the nation’s capitol, he presided over the canonization of Junipero Serra, a Spanish missionary who brought Christianity to California, a move opposed by some native Americans who accused the now saint of destroying their culture. Pope Francis’ next stop was in New York City, where he held mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and addressed the U.N. General Assembly. He was also the featured speaker at a multi-denominational ceremony at “Ground Zero”, site of the 9/11/2001 terrorists attacks on the World Trade Center.The main purpose of his visit to the United States was to attend the World Meeting of Families held in Philadelphia. He also addressed a crowd in front of Independence Hall, giving a speech with a special focus on immigration.
A day after realizing his dream of having the Pope address Congress, Speaker of the House John Boehner announced he would be resigning his post as Speaker, and his seat in Congress.
Speaker Boehner’s announcement, while a surprise by virtue of its timing, was not completely unexpected. The embattled Speaker in recent years has taken a lot of heat from the more conservative members of Congress who questioned his leadership on key issues such as repealing “Obamacare” and what they claimed to be an illegal executive order by President Obama giving millions of illegal immigrants de-facto amnesty. Boehner was also seen as wavering on the issue of defunding Planned Parenthood after damning video apparently showed the organization’s leadership prepared to deal in the tissue of aborted babies.
Boehner’s resignation will be effective at the end of October, after which the Congress must elect a new Speaker. A special election will be held in Ohio to fill his vacant Congressional seat.