In his first official visit to the Vatican since Pope Francis took over, President Obama led a ten member delegation to meet the Pope today The President’s official visit began at 10:27 am in Rome when he and his delegation reached the Vatican. The meeting originally scheduled for just a few minutes metamorphosed into a 50 minute conversation between Pope Francis and Obama. It was only after his nearly hour long meeting that the Pope met with other members of the delegation that included Secretary of State John Kerry, National Security Advisor Susan Rice, and press secretary Jay Carney.
Before President Obama sat on a chair placed on the opposite side of the Pope’s desk, he greeted Pope Francis; telling the new Pope him that he was a great admirer and that it was “wonderful” meeting him. “I bring greetings from my family,” Obama added. “The last time I came here to meet your predecessor I was able to bring my wife and children.”
Obama also presented the Pope with a custom made chest containing pouches of fruits and vegetable seeds from the White House Garden. The chest itself was made from timber from the first cathedral to open in the United States, in Baltimore. He also issued an invitation to Pope Francis urging him to visit the White House. “If you have a chance to come to the White House, we can show you our garden as well,” the president said.
There was also an inscription on the chest that read:
“Presented to His Holiness Pope Francis by Barack Obama President of the United States of America, March 27, 2014.”
Pope Francis, in return, presented the president two medallions, one of which symbolized the need for solidarity and peace between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. He was also given a copy of “Evangelii Gaudium,” or “The Joy of the Gospel,” written by the Pope last November.
Apart from the pleasantries, the two also talked about contentious issues. These included a “wide array of topics” in the words of President Obama; ranging from the current global conflicts in the Crimea and Syria to the pressing need to help the poor and the marginalized.
Both President Obama and Pope Francis are widely known to have contrasting opinions on several issues including that of abortion and same sex marriages. However, the subjects were not discussed as the men found themselves increasingly drawn towards each other’s’ warmth. It was reported yesterday by The Inquisitr that Obama was likely to ask Pope Francis about the revelations of several priest sexual abuse cases spanning decades. That however did not happen.
The Vatican has issued a communique following the meeting and described the meeting between Pope Francis and President Obama as “cordial” and touching on “current international themes,” including a common commitment to fighting human trafficking.
[Image via Bing]