Nearly 20,000 people across the country will be participating in “Pope2Congress” watch parties when Pope Francis makes his historic address to a joint session of the United States Congress on Sept. 24.
The Pope2Congress campaign was created by the Ignatian Solidarity Network to generate excitement about Francis’s address to a joint session of Congress, the first ever by a pope. Individuals and institutions that registered with ISN to host watch parties have received a party-planning toolkit from the organization that includes discussion questions, live-tweeting instructions, giveaway prizes, and even BINGO cards.
More than 200 parties have been registered in thirty-four states across U.S. and as far away as Rome, Italy, according to ISN program director Kim Miller. She says an estimated 19,000 people are expected to attend parties as of September 8, 2015.
Participants will gather in auditoriums, classrooms, churches, and living rooms to hear Francis speak on a wide range of moral issues, including poverty, the global migrant crisis, environmental issues, and the family.
“Pope Francis will illuminate Catholic Social Teaching when he addresses Congress. His message will serve as an invitation to Catholics, members of Congress, and all Americans to respond to the realities of the world with compassion and a spirit of solidarity,” said ISN executive director Christopher Kerr. When asked what his hopes are for those participating in watch parties, Kerr said, “We look forward to inviting watch party participants and others inspired by Pope Francis’s message to join us as advocate for human dignity on key human rights issues including immigration reform, U.S. policy in Central America, and climate change.”
Media observers are watching closely to see what effect the Pope’s visit might have on a Congress of which approximately 30% of members self-identify as Catholic, and nearly 15% attended a Catholic college or university. 56 members of Congress were educated at Jesuit universities or high schools, including House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), who issued the invitation to Pope Francis to visit Congress.
MEDIA NOTE: Watch party locations and convener contact info for a particular geographic area are available upon request for video and photographic coverage. A map of watch party locations can be found at here. Watch party participants will engage on social media (Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram) at the hashtag: #Pope2Congress.
The Ignatian Solidarity Network (ISN) is a national social justice network inspired by the spirituality of St. Ignatius of Loyola. ISN was founded in 2004 and is a lay-led organization working in partnership with Jesuit universities, high schools, and parishes, along with many other Catholic institutions and social justice partners. More information can be found at: http://www.ignatiansolidarity.net.
Christopher Kerr | Executive Director, Ignatian Solidarity Network
216-397-2088 | firstname.lastname@example.org