Millions of television viewers noticed the Republican leader crying and pulling out a white handkerchief to wipe his tears as the Pope delivered his speech before the joint session of congress, and again as the Holy Father greeted and blessed the crowd that gathered outside the Capitol.
Journalists and pundits speculated that Boehner, a devout Catholic, was overwhelmed by the rare opportunity to be with the leader of the Roman Catholic Church.
But sources close to both Boehner and Pope Francis said that the real reason for the speaker’s tears was because the Pontiff had rejected his invitation to dine with him and other leaders of Congress, namely, Nancy Pelosi, Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid.
Francis told Boehner that he didn’t have the time because he already had confirmed an appointment to dine with the homeless at St. Patrick’s Church in Washington, D.C.
During his lunch date with the homeless, Francis was expected not only to eat with his guests but also to serve them.
Boehner said he cried not out of sadness for the botched invitation but more of disappointment. He said he had looked forward to spending a more intimate and quality time with the Pope.