Video: Obama meets Pope Francis, talks for 50 minutes; Update: Vatican says abortion, religious freedom issues raised; Update: Curious omission on income inequality

posted at 9:21 am on March 27, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

As expected, the first meeting between Pope Francis and President Barack Obama went as scripted — at least in public, and with one exception. A gift from Francis fell over, making a loud crash and frustrating Vatican officials that finally shrugged it off. The private meeting appeared to go well, with both men smiling as they exited the room and met the two delegations:

The private meeting between Pope Francis and Barack Obama lasted almost an hour:

The two were scheduled to meet for just half an hour, but their private discussion lasted 52 minutes. Obama seemed buoyed by the meeting as they emerged and the pope greeted a handful of Obama’s senior advisers. Obama’s Catholic secretary of state, John Kerry, pronounced himself “a great admirer of everything you’ve been doing, as a Catholic, for the church.”

The president and pope both appeared tense at the start of the audience, when they initially greeted one another, but then were all smiles by the end of the meeting and seemed to have found a rapport, though they spoke through interpreters.

They exchanged gifts, with the pope offering Obama two medallions and a copy of his apostolic exhortation “The Joy of the Gospel,” in which he denounced the global economic system that excludes the poor.

“You know, I actually will probably read this when I’m in the Oval Office, when I am deeply frustrated and I am sure it will give me strength and will calm me down,” Obama said.

Obama’s gift-giving skills have improved — or perhaps he’s hired more competent advisers in his Office of Protocol. No iPods of his speeches were given this time, but instead a gift with some thought put into it:

The president also presented the pope with a custom-made seed chest featuring a variety of fruit and vegetable seeds used in the White House Garden. The chest is made from American leather and wood from the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

“These, I think, are carrots,” Obama said, holding a pouch. “Each one has a different seed in it. The box is made from timber from the first cathedral to open in the United States in Baltimore.”

We’ll know more when we get the readout from the State Department and from the Vatican. The longer time usually means a pleasant conversation, although it could also mean that the debate on issues might have been more intense that usual, too. Neither side stands to gain from emphasizing negatives, so expect both to issue warm and congratulatory statements that emphasizes the agenda for each. The Pope will have to have raised the issues of abortion and the HHS contraception mandate to express solidarity with American bishops, while Obama will no doubt emphasize their commonality on poverty and income inequality.

The real story will come out later. Pay attention to reporters like John Thavis and John Allen at the Boston Globe for the fly-on-the-wall-once-removed perspectives down the road.

Update: The first readout of the meeting comes from the Vatican, which makes it sound as though Obama didn’t get much of a pass:

This morning, 27 March 2014, the Hon. Barack H. Obama, President of the United States of America, was received in audience by His Holiness Pope Francis, after which he met with His Eminence Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State, and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for Relations with States.

During the cordial meetings, views were exchanged on some current international themes and it was hoped that, in areas of conflict, there would be respect for humanitarian and international law and a negotiated solution between the parties involved.

In the context of bilateral relations and cooperation between Church and State, there was a discussion on questions of particular relevance for the Church in that country, such as the exercise of the rights to religious freedom, life and conscientious objection, as well as the issue of immigration reform. Finally, the common commitment to the eradication of trafficking of human persons in the world was stated.

Interestingly, there is no mention of poverty and income inequality from the Vatican. That seems like a significant omission, especially considering Pope Francis’ focus in that area.

Update: Karl’s tweet sums it up for Obama:


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Comment pages: 1 2

Meow

Bmore on March 27, 2014 at 1:35 PM

The problem with being Pope is that every now and then you have to meet with heathens.

TXUS on March 27, 2014 at 9:43 AM

Well, Jesus associated with sinners such as prostitutes and even (shudder) tax collectors.

SubmarineDoc on March 27, 2014 at 1:38 PM

Rush Limbaugh has got to be petrified of what this meeting could bring.

verbaluce on March 27, 2014 at 12:11 PM

What does it bring?

One of the two is a divider and a non-believer.

One is bigger than the other, and way more popular, especially in the US.

Schadenfreude on March 27, 2014 at 1:39 PM

Verbie, courtesy of Bmore

Schadenfreude on March 27, 2014 at 1:40 PM

The pope’s concern

Schadenfreude on March 27, 2014 at 1:41 PM

The prick, who’s chief, dared talk to the pope about abortion.

Schadenfreude on March 27, 2014 at 1:41 PM

If the one they call “pope” (not a catholic here) were true to his faith, he’d question why Obama (who professes to be a Christian) voted twice as an Illinois State Senator to allow infanticide? He’d also question why he supports homosexual marriage (which, speaking of homosexuality, God called “an abomination” in the Holy Bible). He would also question why he appointed Supreme Court Justices who favor abortion.

The list could go on, but again, if he were true to his faith, why would he not question these issues?

Bob Davis on March 27, 2014 at 2:05 PM

Hmmm.

Homosexual epidemic in Catholic priesthood, secret ghey groups in Vatican.

Secret homosexual past of Obama, cozy with ghey bullies in entertainment.

Two men come out of a room smiling…

Hmmm.

#GheyThread

Nutstuyu on March 27, 2014 at 2:23 PM

On Faux they talked about 0bama and the Pope…They had a priest on, and he said “The meeting between Pope Francis and Pope 0bama lasted three times longer than scheduled”.

All were surprised that they got along so well. Why? They are two socialists, primarily interested in redistributing the wealth of the USA, they have a lot in common…

Schadenfreude on March 27, 2014 at 2:40 PM

On Faux they talked about 0bama and the Pope…They had a priest on, and he said “The meeting between Pope Francis and Pope 0bama lasted three times longer than scheduled”.

All were surprised that they got along so well. Why? They are two socialists, primarily interested in redistributing the wealth of the USA, they have a lot in common…

Schadenfreude on March 27, 2014 at 2:40 PM

Pretty much true from what I’ve seen of this new Pope so far.

Rational Thought on March 27, 2014 at 3:14 PM

Barry should’ve given the Pope an Ipod with Rev Wright’s sermons on it.

Buttercup on March 27, 2014 at 3:16 PM

Obama to Pope: How come I don’t hear you when you pray?

HotAirian on March 27, 2014 at 9:36 AM

Hilarious….comment of the day goes to….

platykat on March 27, 2014 at 3:51 PM

Obama is lucky the Pope didn’t have a nun come in and whack him across the knuckles with a ruler.
myiq2xu on March 27, 2014 at 12:31 PM
I was praying Fr. Gallagher would appear and give Obama a boxing lesson.
Roy Rogers on March 27, 2014 at 12:37 PM

I personally was holding out for the nun from “Animal House.”

ImmigrantsWife on March 27, 2014 at 4:31 PM

Two peas in a pod.

vilebody on March 27, 2014 at 4:43 PM

The list could go on, but again, if he were true to his faith, why would he not question these issues?

Bob Davis on March 27, 2014 at 2:05 PM

The Pope indeed may have mentioned them, but Barry understands that for this Pope (and most of our bishops and clergy) the socialism comes first…

Our professional Catholics don’t mind the abortion and religious liberty restrictions as long as the socialist agenda is advanced.

shinty on March 27, 2014 at 4:52 PM

The Pope and the Dope

Schadenfreude on March 27, 2014 at 5:23 PM

The anti-christ and the beast.

Murphy9 on March 27, 2014 at 6:49 PM

Murphy 9 and is The Moron.

corona79 on March 27, 2014 at 9:51 PM

Murphy 9 and is The Moron.

corona79 on March 27, 2014 at 9:51 PM

</3

Murphy9 on March 27, 2014 at 11:04 PM

Comment pages: 1 2