National News

Pope Francis Considering September Visit to U.S. Following U.N. Invitation

Pope Francis speaks to visitors during his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Oct. 18, 2023. (CNS photo/Lola Gomez)

By The Tablet Staff

Pope Francis is contemplating a return to the United States this September to address the United Nations General Assembly, as per reports from the French Catholic newspaper La Croix. While the Vatican has yet to confirm this, a source from the Vatican Secretariat of State informed Catholic News Agency of a formal invitation from Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, suggesting the pope’s inclination to accept.

If the visit to New York materializes, it would coincide with the United Nations’ “Summit of the Future,” scheduled for Sept. 22-23. Such a trip would require adjustments to Pope Francis’ already-packed September itinerary, which includes visits to Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste, and Singapore Sept. 2-13. Additionally, he is slated to be in Belgium at the end of the month to mark the 600th anniversary of the University of Louvain, with speculation that this event might be postponed to 2025 to accommodate the potential U.N. visit.

During his time in Belgium, Pope Francis is planning to celebrate Mass at the national shrine of Koelkenberg, and there are rumors of a stopover in Luxembourg, although officials there have refuted this claim. 

The proposed September summit aims to fortify the United Nations’ structures and global governance to confront both new and enduring challenges, fostering a “pact for the future” to expedite progress toward the U.N.’s sustainable development goals.

In April, Pope Francis emphasized the significance of the summit during a meeting with students, urging them to actively contribute to the realization of its objectives. Given the pope’s age and recent medical history, his participation in such events is always subject to his health, as evidenced by the cancellation of a trip to Abu Dhabi for COP28 last December.

The potential trip would mark Pope Francis’ first return to the United States since his 2015 visit, during which he also addressed the United Nations.