The keys to Obama's visit with Pope Francis

March meeting

What is likely to happen when Obama visits Pope Francis in Rome today? Two earlier visits give us a good indication, writes Thomas Reese in NCR Online.

The leaders of two of the world's superpowers, one political and the other spiritual, will meet in Rome today. As with any important international meeting, the media will focus on areas of conflict, and liberals and conservatives will try to spin the results to support their causes.

Conservatives will predict that President Barack Obama will get a tongue-lashing from Pope Francis on abortion and on the contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act. Liberals will have Obama and Francis singing a duet.

What is likely to happen when Obama visits Pope Francis? Two earlier visits give us a good indication.

This will not be Obama's first visit to the Vatican. He met with Pope Benedict XVI in July 2009, and the visit went smoothly. Jesuit Fr Federico Lombardi told reporters after the audience that 'great serenity and great cordiality' characterised the meeting. The Pope 'seemed extremely satisfied with how the meeting went.' He said the Pope found Obama to be 'attentive and ready to listen.'

According to the Vatican statement issued after the meeting, the two men discussed issues that represent 'a great challenge for the future of every nation and for the true progress of peoples, such as the defence and promotion of life and the right to abide by one's conscience.'

Specifically, they discussed world issues addressed at the recently completed G-8 summit as well as immigration, the issue of reuniting families, and the peace process in the Middle East, 'on which there was general agreement.' 

'Dialogue between cultures and religions, the global economic crisis and its ethical implications, food security, development aid - especially for Africa and Latin America - and the problem of drug trafficking' were also discussed. Finally, 'the importance of educating young people everywhere in the value of tolerance was highlighted,' it said.

The pope brought up his concerns about abortion, and Obama promised to fulfill his pledge to do everything he could to reduce the number of abortions.

FULL STORY How will Obama's visit with Pope Francis go? (NCR Online)

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