Pope Francis announced Monday he’ll be visiting the United States in September.
The pontiff will make his first visit to the U.S., going to New York City, Washington, and Philadelphia.
A spokesperson for Francis, Archbishop Auza, emphasized that he’ll be in the U.S. from Sept. 22 to Sept. 27, according to the Catholic News Agency, which broke the story.
“And we might say really the highlight of the Washington visit might be his speech to the joint-meeting of Congress, so the Senate and the House of Representative,” Auza said. The details of the meeting or speech was not revealed.
Francis will also celebrate Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. The Mass will be mostly for Bishops, consecrated and religious men and women, and members of Catholic charitable and humanitarian organizations.
He’ll address the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Sept. 25. “Practically all of the heads of states and governments will be around and they will all be there on that day, so if the Pope were to finalize this visit to the U.S. that means that he would address all the heads of states and of governments, who will be sitting with their official delegations,” the archbishop said.
“Our plan is not to have a huge Mass outside of Philadelphia, because the focus will really be Philadelphia, because the Pope is going to the United States for the World Meeting of Families,” he added.
Auza added that Francis might visit the World Trade Center area in Lower Manhattan. Pope Benedict XVI visited the United States, including the White House, in 2008.
The news agency reported Francis said he hoped to visit Bolivia, Ecuador, and Paraguay in 2015, and he wanted to go to Argentina, Chile and Uruguay in 2016.
The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, stressed that the travel plans were “provisional and that nothing has been decided.”
Francis said he would have loved to have entered the US via the Mexican border, saying it would have been a “beautiful thing, as a sign of brotherhood and of help to the immigrants.”
“But you know that going to Mexico without going to visit the Madonna (of Guadalupe) would be a drama. A war could break out!” he said, laughing. He said a Mexico visit would come in the future.
But he essentially ruled out travelling to El Salvador to beatify slain Archbishop Oscar Romero, saying the ceremony would be celebrated by a Vatican official, as is the norm for beatifications.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.