Arizona Gov. Ducey to meet Pope at White House

Posted at 11:51 AM, Sep 20, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-20 14:51:05-04

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey practically beams when reporters ask him about his chance to meet Pope Francis.

The lifelong Catholic was invited by President Barack Obama to meet the pope at the White House on Wednesday. He's traveling with his wife to Washington for the White House event and then will be in attendance as Francis addresses a joint session of Congress on Thursday.

Ducey says it was "an easy yes" when his assistant told him of the invitation.

"We're very excited, and it's not every day that you receive a call from the White House inviting you to come to Washington to greet the pope," Ducey said after an event Thursday. "So I'm really honored to be able to do it, I'm humbled and as a cradle Catholic I'm excited and so's my wife Angela."

Ducey said he's not sure if he will actually get the chance to speak one-on-one with the pope, and that if he does he will wait to ask any questions.

"First, if he had anything to say to me I would be there to listen," Ducey said. "But if we were able to have a conversation I certainly would ask for prayers for Arizona and for our families and children here."

Ducey's comments stand in stark contracts to U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, who said he plans to boycott the pope's congressional address because of the possibility the pontiff will discuss his support for policies to fight climate change.

Gosar, R-Flagstaff, wrote a column for a conservative website Thursday saying he was appalled by a papal teaching document that "condemned anyone skeptical of the link between human activity and climate change." He said that if the pope stuck to standard Christian theology or spoke out with moral authority against violent Islam, "I would be there cheering him on."

Ducey plans to head from Washington to Indianapolis to attend Republican Governors Association meetings that end Saturday.