When Pope Benedict XVI meets with President Obama in Rome today, a shy German theologian and a charismatic leader known for his international rock star appeal will find plenty to agree on despite some profound differences in substance and style.
VATICAN CITY (AP) — President Barack Obama sat down with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican on Friday for a meeting in which frank but constructive talks were expected between two men who agree on helping the poor but disagree on abortion and stem cell research.
"It's a great honor," Obama said as he greeted the pope, thanking him for the meeting. They sat down at the pontiff's desk and exchanged pleasantries before reporters and photographers were ushered out of the ornate room.
The pope was heard asking about the Group of Eight summit, the meeting of developed nations that concluded before Obama's arrival at Vatican City. Obama said it "was very productive."
CNN presented a live stream on its web site during the private meeting between Pope Benedict and President Obama. The cameras swtiched between a stream showing the waiting staff, outside the private room in which the meeting was taking place, and a stream showing the art work inside the papal palace.
The CNN web site gave continuous coverage without commentary; the news channel offered glimpses. Score one for the Internet.
The pope, Dionne suggests, is far to the political left of Obama. He goes on to say:
But the Vatican clearly views Obama through a broader prism. Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the papal nuncio in Washington, has privately warned American bishops that harsh attacks on Obama threaten to make the church look partisan.
By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
While U.S. President Barack Obama is not expected to arrive at the Vatican today until around 4:00 pm local time, First Lady Michelle Obama should get here more than an hour before, along with her daughters Malia and Sasha, her mother Marian Robinson, and longtime friend Kaye Wilson, for an extensive guided tour.
Mrs. Obama's motorcade is expected to pull up at a side entrance around 2:45 pm in Rome, meaning 8:45 am on the East Coast in America. The party will first get a tour of St. Peter's Basilica, including the tombs of the popes that lie beneath the basilica's main floor, before heading into the Apostolic Palace.
The famed Sistine Chapel has been closed ahead of Mrs. Obama's visit, to allow for a private tour. She will also be shown the Sala Regia, or "Regal Room," where popes once received monarchs, and which is today used for grand Vatioan events. The party will also walk through the rest of the first and second floors of the Apostolic Palace.
At the end of her tour, the First Lady and the rest of her party will join the official American delegation, in order to meet the pope after his private exchange with the president.
Here's the second part of my report on the teleconference called by the Catholic Democrats earlier today. I already reported on what Congresswoman Rosa L. DeLauro of Connecticut and Congressman Jim McGovern of Massachusetts think about tomorrow's meeting between President Obama and Pope Benedict XVI. To sum up their thoughts: It's more than a mere photo-op.
The two representatives also talked briefly about Pope Benedict's encyclical Caritas in Veritate. Here's a quick sampling:
DeLauro: "[Pope Benedict] has provided an excellent road map in how we can go about securing economic justice. I think it is so refreshing to read what he has to say. He presents a challenge to all political leaders when he basically concludes, and I quote, 'every economic decision has a moral consequences.' ...
Redemptorists provide historic stole for Obama to present to pope
You got to hand it to the Redemptorists, Baltimore Province. They get swept up in the Madoff scandal, losing a lot of dough, but don't miss a beat. They've secured the delivery by President Barack Obama of a stole that was placed on the remains of St. John Neumann, a Redemptorist himself. It's a terrific coup on the Redemptorists' part, not too mention the fact that they've put an excellent spin on the word "stole."