News / Europe

Obama Meets Pope Francis

Obama Meets Pope Francis for First Timei
X
Luis Ramirez
March 27, 2014 11:49 PM
President Obama met Pope Francis for the first time Thursday. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez is traveling with the president and has this report from the Vatican.
Luis Ramirez
President Barack Obama and Pope Francis have met for the first time at the Vatican.
 
Obama sat down with the pope in the Vatican's Papal Library for a nearly one-hour conversation that began in a warm atmosphere, with Obama saying he is a great admirer of the pontiff.  
 
The president gave the pope a box of fruit and vegetable seeds used in the White House garden.  The pope gave the president a small book, a papal document titled The Joy of the Gospel, which the president said he will turn to for strength.

Later, at a news conference with Italy's Prime Minister, Obama spoke of his meeting with the pontiff.

“My day started with the great honor of meeting with his holiness, Pope Francis, and like people around the world, I have been incredibly moved by his compassion, his message of inclusion," he said. "I was grateful to have the opportunity to speak with him about the responsibilities we all share for the least of the poor, the excluded."
 
The meeting was a chance for Obama to highlight the areas where they agree, and to bridge relations strained by differences on a wide range of views, and improve his image among some Catholic American voters who see the administration as hostile to the church's teachings.  
 
  • U.S. President Barack Obama arrives at the Vatican for a private audience with Pope Francis, in Vatican City, March 27, 2014. 
  • Pope Francis talks with U.S. President Barack Obama during a private audience in Vatican City, March 27, 2014. 
  • U.S. President Barack Obama called himself a "great admirer" of Pope Francis as he sat down with the pontiff at the Vatican, March 27, 2014.
  • Pope Francis exchanges gifts with U.S. President Barack Obama during a private audience at Vatican City, March 27, 2014. 

Relations were damaged by the administration's efforts to force religious institutions and observant Catholics to pay for coverage of contraceptives, including abortion-inducing drugs, and female sterilization under the new U.S. healthcare law - in violation of church teachings against abortion and contraception.
 
Observant Catholics said the law trampled on their religious freedom.

American bishops and followers who in some cases had supported the health care law condemned the requirements and joined in lawsuits to block its implementation.

“There were people who were, up until then, willing to have an open mind about the administration's attitude," said Monsignor Lorenzo Albacete, a prominent Catholic theologian and commentator. "And after this, there was the recognition, an opinion began to enter into Catholic circles that are not political, nonetheless began to be felt politically and that was obviously not the desire of the administration.  So I would say the situation worsened the relations between the two."
 
Obama went into Thursday's meeting expecting to keep the conversation to areas where the two men agree.  Pope Francis has spoken frequently against world poverty and inequality. Obama has called for bridging the gap between rich and poor and has led efforts to raise the minimum wage in the United States.

Obama said the conversation was largely on these topics, but without going into detail he indicated the pope did bring up their differences.

“His Holiness and the Vatican made clear their position on a range of issues," he said. "Some of them I differ with.  Most I heartily agree with."

They also spoke about immigration, and the president said the pope raised concerns about the plight of Christians who are suffering persecution in the Middle East.

Francis was elected a year ago, surprising many with his informal style and focus on the poor, attracting non-observant Catholics and those who otherwise saw themselves having little in common with the Church and its teachings especially on issues like abortion, contraception, and homosexual unions.  
 
The meeting with Obama is seen as perhaps a new chapter in what has been an uneasy relationship.

You May Like

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: oldlamb from: Guangzhou
March 27, 2014 11:41 PM
I don’t think the US’ law trampled on catholic religious freedom. abortion and contraception, and so on are nundane affairs,administrated by governments.2000 years ago,Jesus told us:Give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s,and to God the things that are God’s.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid