The pope's U.S. visit will be historic, and maybe a little combative


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Pope Francis will make his first trip to the United States on Tuesday, the start of a six-day tour through Washington, D.C., New York City and Philadelphia that is expected to be both historic and contentious.

The pope's U.S. visit will be historic, and maybe a little combative

Though the pope will spend time parading around and visiting cathedrals, he will also speak before a potentially hostile Congress, make a similar speech in front of world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly, and preside over a Mass in Philadelphia that is expected to draw one million people.

Officials say they don't know what the pope will say to Congress on Thursday, but many expect him to demand more action against climate change in front of an audience dominated by a Republican Party that hasn't decided whether they believe climate change is an existential threat.

The pope released a 180-page official letter in June lambasting leaders across the globe for doing so little to combat climate change—which he called a man-made threat.

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Arizona), who is Catholic, has said he will boycott the pope's speech because of Francis's views on climate change.

"The earth’s climate has been changing since God created it, with or without man," Gosar wrote Friday. "If the pope wants to devote his life to fighting climate change then he can do so in his personal time."

Republicans are hoping that the pope's ire is not directed only at them. Francis may also voice his anti-abortion views at a time when many conservative legislators are trying to defund Planned Parenthood, a nationwide organization that provides healthcare and abortion services for women.

Francis is also likely to shame world leaders for their inaction on climate change when he speaks before them Friday at the United Nations General Assembly.

In that same 180-page letter issued in June, Francis wrote, "The failure of global summits on the environment make it plain that our politics are subject to technology and finance. There are too many special interests, and economic interests easily end up trumping the common good and manipulating information so that their own plans will not be affected."

But the headlining event of Francis's tour through Northeastern America comes during his final hours in the country, at a Mass in Philadelphia where around one million people are expected. Francis currently enjoys a 66% favorability rating in the United States, according to a recent Quinnipiac University poll, a rating many politicians running for president would fantasize about.

The City of Brotherly Love will essentially shut down Saturday and Sunday during the World Meeting of Families, a weeklong event marked by performances from actor Mark Wahlberg as well as musicians Aretha Franklin and the Fray.

The pope will parade out to Benjamin Franklin Parkway on Sunday before he begins Mass, after which he hops on a flight to Rome.

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