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First report on meeting between pope and president

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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."

More here:

CNN live stream during president's visit

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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.

E. J. Dionne on split between Benedict, conservative U.S. bishops

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The pope, Dionne suggests, is far to the political left of Obama. He goes on to say:

The conservative minority among the bishops as well as political activists on the Catholic right have insisted on judging the president only on the basis of his support for legal abortion and stem cell research.

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.

Read his full column here:

David Gibson views Obama visit as setback for conservatives

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David Gibson on the Obama visit:

This has been a tough stretch for conservative Christians in America, especially of the Catholic variety.Notre Dame welcomed Barack Obama at commencement with open arms and an honorary degree after a number of bishops and conservative activists decreed that the nation's preeminent Catholic university had forfeited its bona fides with the invitation. The president has said that the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) is not a priority, promised that "robust" conscience protections for health care workers are coming, and pushed for a package of abortion-reduction legislation that should be unveiled by summer's end.

Before Obama, Michelle to arrive at Vatican

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By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
Rome

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.

'I want our nation to be inspired by what the pope said'

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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.' ...

Obama to give pope a stole

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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."

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August 15-28, 2014

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