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

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs