In September 2015, Pope Francis of the Catholic Church, Bishop of Rome and Sovereign of the Vatican City State and leader of the Holy See will be visiting the United States of America for a five-day trip. On Wednesday, 23rd September 2015 the Pope will visit the White House. This will mark only the third time a pontiff has visited the White House. According to White House press secretary Josh Earnest the two leaders would discuss a broad range of issues including poverty, the environment, religious freedom and immigration. On Thursday, 24th September 2015 the Pope will address a Joint Meeting of Congress (a Joint Meeting of Congress, is the preferred method of receiving addresses from foreign leaders and dignitaries). This will be the first leader of the Holy See to address a joint meeting of Congress. Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio said “It will be a historic visit” especially when the Pope has taken positions on some issues that clash with the views of Republicans who now control the House and Senate including immigration and global financial system’s trickle-down-economic theories and an ‘economy of exclusion’, dangers of fracking and environmental devastation. On Friday, 25th September 2015 at 9am the Pope will address the 70th Regular Session of the UN General Assembly and will focus on sustainable living, eradicating poverty and calling upon world leaders to address climate change. Significantly at 11am on 25th September 2015 the UN Summit for the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda will open. On the 26th September 2015 the Pope will visit Philadelphia to participate in the closing events of the Eighth World Meeting of Families. These events include the Festival of Families, an intercultural celebration of family life around the world. On Sunday the 27th September 2015 the Pope will hold Papal mass.
The Holy See is viewed as analogous to a sovereign state, having a centralized government called the Roman Curia and while not fulfilling the long-established criteria in international law of statehood, has diplomatic relations with 180 states worldwide. Holy See participates as an observer in AU (African Union), Arab League, Council of Europe, OAS (Organization of American States), IOM (International Organization for Migration), and in the United Nations and its agencies FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization), ILO (International Labour Organization), UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development), UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme), UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), UN-HABITAT (United Nations Human Settlements Programme), UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), UNIDO (United Nations Industrial Development Organization), UNWTO (World Tourism Organization), WFP (World Food Programme), WHO (World Health Organization), WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization). It participates as a guest in NAM (Non-Aligned Movement), and is a full member in IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency), OPCW (Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons), OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe).
The Holy See is not a member of the United Nations. However, it is a permanent observer state. In that capacity, it has the right to attend all sessions of the United Nations General Assembly, the United Nations Security Council, and the United Nations Economic and Social Council to observe their work. Accordingly, the Holy See has established permanent observer missions in New York and Geneva (Switzerland) and has been able to influence the decisions and recommendations of the United Nations. As a matter of diplomatic courtesy, since 1964, the Holy See was also allowed to make formal policy statements in the General Assembly. Since 2004 the Holy See has the right to participate in the general debate of the General Assembly and to intervene in the discussion of any issue inscribed in the agenda of that assembly as well as make proposals and policy statements of ECOSOC (United Nations Economic and Social Council) as well as make statements in public meetings of the UNSC (United Nations Security Council). Popes Paul VI (in 1965), John Paul II (in 1979 and in 1995) and Benedict XVI (in 2008) in were invited to address the General Assembly.