1394732567000-AFP-527501683House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, extended a formal and open invitation Thursday to Pope Francis to address a joint meeting of Congress. If the pontiff accepts, it would be unprecedented. No pope or religious leader that serves as a head of state has ever addressed Congress, according to the U.S. House Historian’s office. “His address as a visiting head of state before a joint meeting of the House and Senate would honor our nation in keeping with the best traditions of our democratic institutions,” Boehner said in a statement. ” It would also offer an excellent opportunity for the American people as well as the nations of the world to hear his message in full.” Boehner, who is Catholic, said Pope Francis has inspired millions of Americans with his “pastoral manner and servant leadership” to reflect on matters of human dignity, freedom and social justice. MORE