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Newsweek's report: 'Obama Meets the Pope, Makes It Out Alive'

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Holly Bailey filed this report:

President Obama just wrapped up his visit with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican. We’ll have to wait for word later from administration officials on what exactly the two talked about in their private sit-down. And no doubt the Vatican will have its own take. But reporters at the White House press file at the G-8 site in L’Aquila were able to see some of the visit on feed provided by official Vatican TV. Obama first met one-on-one with the pope, where the two exchanged the usual greetings as the president was escorted into Benedict's private apartment. The two leaders then went into the Papal Library, where Obama sat on one side of a very fancy wooden desk and Benedict sat on the other. As dozens of photographers captured the moment for eternity, Obama made small talk. “You must be used to having your picture taken,” the president said. The pope, with a faint smile, nodded. “I’m still getting used to it,” Obama told him. The pope gave him a careful look. “You must be getting tired,” Benedict finally said, referring to Obama’s lengthy foreign sojourn his week. Obama’s response was inaudible.

Okay, I admit it. I cried

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Okay, I admit it. I cried. The picture of President Obama being welcomed by Pope Benedict XVI in the frescoed halls of the Vatican touched my heart as well as my mind. These two men, so different in many ways – and so differently powerful – seemed to immediately transcend the bizarre aspects of such meetings, e.g., having to begin their meeting and exchange pleasantries while dozens of cameras are clicking away.

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.

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