Speaker invites Pope Francis to address Congress _lowres

In this Dec. 21, 2013, file photo, Pope Francis addresses the Vatican Curia, in the Clementine hall, at the Vatican. (AP Photo/Claudio Peri, Pool)

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker John Boehner has invited Pope Francis to address a joint meeting of Congress.

Boehner says in a statement that the pope has inspired millions with his pastoral manner and servant leadership.

The speaker says he had extended an open and formal invitation to the pontiff.

In his statement, Boehner highlights the pope’s call for the protection of the most vulnerable — the ailing, disadvantaged, “impoverished and the unborn.”