CAPITOL HILL—U.S. House Speaker John Boehner sent shock waves throughout Washington early Friday when he announced that he would resign from one of the most powerful positions in the U.S. government and leave Congress at the end of October.
The bombshell came one day after Pope Francis made history by addressing a joint meeting of Congress, at Boehner's invitation. Boehner, a devout Catholic, had invited three popes to address lawmakers and had waited 20 years for one to accept.
"This is big stuff for a little Catholic boy!" he said.
Boehner wept openly during the pope's address, and again afterward as he stood with him on the speaker's balcony to greet crowds.
Boehner abruptly announced he would resign in a closed-door meeting with his fellow Republicans. Some of his party's most conservative members had been threatening to challenge his leadership, saying he was too prone to compromise with Democrats. Representative Mark Meadows of North Carolina and other members of the House Freedom Caucus had led the charge. READ MORE OF THIS STORY ON VOA NEWS WEBSITE