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N.H. House Democratic Leader Among Those At White House For Pope Francis Visit

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House Democratic Leader Stephen Shurtleff will be among the dignitaries at a ceremony Wednesday welcoming Pope Francis to the White House.

Shurtleff is among the invited guests to join President Barack Obama at today’s ceremony.

Francis plans to deliver his opening remarks to the United States in an arrival ceremony today on the White House lawn. Then he's expected to speak to America's bishops.

Shurtleff says as a Roman Catholic, he has tremendous respect for the positions Pope Francis has taken on social and environmental issues.

"His advocacy for poor people and the importance of taking actions to save Mother Earth should be heeded by all," Shurtleff said. "His Holiness leads by example and is an inspiration for Catholics and non-Catholics the world over."

Also, a priest from Nashua will join U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte at the White House to officially welcome Pope Francis to the United States, according to the Associated Press.

Ayotte invited her priest, the Rev. Richard Kelley of St. Christopher Catholic Church, to be her guest during the pope's visit to Washington this week. Ayotte and Kelley will attend the welcoming ceremony on Wednesday and the pope's address to a joint session of Congress on Thursday.

Ayotte also is serving as a member of the honorary escort committee that will accompany the pope into the House chamber before his address to Congress.