U.S. President Obama meets Pope Francis for very first time
By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
3/27/2014 (3 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
Telling Pope Francis that it was "Wonderful meeting you, I'm a great admirer," U.S. President Barack Obama me the pope for the very first time at the Vatican. The two then spoke in private for 50 minutes, which is considered extraordinarily long for such a meeting.
Vatican experts say the current relationship between the current U.S. president and the pope is nowhere near as cordial as it once was between Pope Jean Paul II and Ronald Reagan.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Inside the papal library, Obama and the pope sat down on either side of the Pope's desk, each with an interpreter beside him. Through his interpreter, Msgr. Mark Miles, the Pope, who spoke in Spanish, could be heard telling the president: "I'd like you to feel really at home here."
At the end of the meeting, the president asked the pope that "My family has to be with me on this journey. They've been very strong. Pray for them. I would appreciate it."
In an interview with a local newspaper, the president said that "The Holy Father has been an inspiration to people around the world, including me." He added, however: "It doesn't mean we agree on every issue."
Diplomatic relations between Italy and the United States are close, though Rome has been cautious about imposing sanctions on Russia over the Ukraine crisis, amid fears it would take a toll on a key market.
During a six-day European tour dominated by the Crimean crisis, the U.S. leader will doubtless be hoping some of the pope's stardom will rub off on him.
Obama is "mostly going I think to bask in the glow of the new pope," Jeremy Shapiro, visiting fellow at Washington's Brookings institute said.
His main aim will be "to highlight their sort of mutual attention to the problems of poverty and inequality. This isn't really a foreign policy stop," he said.
At the end of their discussion, Pope Francis gave the president a bound edition of his apostolic exhortation "Evangelii Gaudium" ("The Joy of the Gospel"), published last November.
"You know, I actually will probably read this in the Oval Office when I am deeply frustrated, and I am sure it will give me strength and will calm me down."
"I hope," the Pope replied with a laugh.
In a December speech, Obama quoted a passage from the exhortation in which the Pope lamented: "How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?"
Vatican experts say the current relationship between the current U.S. president and the pope is nowhere near as cordial as it once was between Pope Jean Paul II and Ronald Reagan. Pope Francis is unlikely to refrain from tackling Obama on his domestic and foreign policy.
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