News / USA

Obama Hopes for Boost From Meeting with Pope Francis

Obama Hopes for Boost From Meeting with Pope Francisi
X
March 26, 2014 4:58 PM
President Obama will meet with Pope Francis and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia as he rounds out his current trip abroad. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports on the issues he is expected to discuss with them.
President Barack Obama is in Italy for an audience with Pope Francis and talks with Italian leaders expected to focus on Ukraine and Russia. Obama then travels to Saudi Arabia, as he rounds out his trip abroad.

Francis is a celebrity these days and the president is probably eager to be seen with him, says Stephen Schneck, who directs the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies at Catholic University of America in Washington.

“Everybody on the planet would like to have their picture taken next to the pope right now,” said Schneck, who helped Obama win Catholic votes in the last election. “So yes, of course, the president has more to gain.”

Both Obama and the pope have said they are very concerned about wealth inequality.  In his 20s Obama did community work in Chicago for a Catholic social justice program.

But as president, Obama has faced opposition from some Catholics over his position on abortion, and U.S. bishops have tried to torpedo his health reform law because it requires insurers to cover contraception for women.  While the president was in Europe, the U.S. Supreme Court began hearing a challenge to the law’s so-called contraceptive mandate.
 
It is unlikely the president and the pope will have the kind of rapport that John Paul II had with President Ronald Reagan, bolstered by their shared anti-communism, says Schneck.

“That was an extraordinary moment, a rare crack in history where all the stars aligned,” he said.  “I do not see that happening in this case.”

After the Vatican, the president will meet King Abdullah in Saudi Arabia.

At a recent seminar in Washington, Hisham Melhem of the al-Arabiya news channel said that meeting will probably focus on the violence in Syria and Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

“But the president in every occasion should talk about American principles, should talk about respect for human rights, whether for religious minorities or not,” he said.

Christians have become targets in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East, and Obama has been criticized for not speaking out more forcefully on their behalf.

Jerome Socolovsky

Jerome Socolovsky is the award-winning religion correspondent for the Voice of America, based in Washington. He reports on the rapidly changing faith landscape of the United States, including interfaith issues, secularization and non-affiliation trends and the growth of immigrant congregations.

You May Like

Scotland Vote Raises Questions of International Law

Experts say self-determination, as defined and protected by international law, confined narrowly to independence movements in process of de-colonization More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Annual Military Exercise Takes on New Meaning for Ukraine Troops

Troops from 15 nations participating in annual event, 'Rapid Trident' in western Ukraine More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid