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 Obama Remembers Fallen Troops for Memorial Day

    President urges Americans this holiday weekend to 'take a moment and offer a silent word of prayer or public word of thanks' to country's veterans

    Upsurge of Migratory Traffic Across Sahara From West to North Africa

    A report by the International Organization for Migration finds more than 60,000 migrants have transited through the Agadez region of Niger between February and April

    UN Blocks Access to Journalist Advocacy Group

    United Nations has rejected bid from nonprofit journalist advocacy group that wanted 'consultative status,' ranking that would have given them greater access to UN meetings

    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.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora