As Obama arrived at the Vatican amid pomp and tradition of the Catholic church, he bowed to the pontiff, before sitting down at a wooden table and told Pope Francis “It is a great honour. I’m a great admirer. Thank you so much for receiving me.”
Obama considers himself a kindred spirit on economic inequality with the Pope, who accepted the resignation of extravagant spending German Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst. The difference is that Pope Francis lives by what he preaches, while for Obama it is a matter of politics.
The Washington Post reports that the meeting, which lasted less than an hour, has been charged with politics and that President Obama will emphasize their shared view of economic inequality, during a media opportunity later on Thursday.
“The Holy Father has been an inspiration to people around the world, including me, with his commitment to social justice and his message of love and compassion, especially for the poor and the vulnerable among us,” Obama said an interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera. “And he doesn’t just proclaim the Gospel, he lives it.”
“Given his great moral authority, when the Pope speaks it carries enormous weight,” Obama continued. “That’s why I quoted him in my speech on income inequality.”
This morning, 27 March 2014, the Hon. Barack H. Obama, President of the United States of America, was received in audience by His Holiness Pope Francis, after which he met with His Eminence Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State, and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for Relations with States.
During the cordial meetings, views were exchanged on some current international themes and it was hoped that, in areas of conflict, there would be respect for humanitarian and international law and a negotiated solution between the parties involved. In the context of bilateral relations and cooperation between Church and State, there was a discussion on questions of particular relevance for the Church in that country, such as the exercise of the rights to religious freedom, life and conscientious objection, as well as the issue of immigration reform. Finally, the common commitment to the eradication of trafficking of human persons in the world was stated.
Source: Official Vatican NetworK
It won’t be all smooth sailing for the president, the Pope is a son of the church and closely follows the church’s teachings. The pontiff will, undoubtedly raise the issue of mandated birth control and abortion, issues that have turned Catholics away from Democrats. During a recent visit by Secretary of State John Kerry, his Vatican counter part, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, raised the issue of the ObamaCare mandate. After the meeting the Vatican issued a statement that said Parolin had expressed the concern of the U.S. bishops for the reforms in relation to the guarantee of religious freedom and conscientious
While President Obama and the White House view the visit as a political opportunity to move the waning Catholic voter back into the Democratic camp, the Pontiff sees is as a way to reinforce the church’s teachings.
Obama won the Catholic vote in both elections, with heavy support of Hispanic Catholics.