By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
tIf the White House strategy behind arranging a session for President Barack Obama with religious journalists on the eve of his visit to Pope Benedict XVI was to set a positive tone for that meeting, early returns in Rome suggest it’s working to perfection.
tThat session last Thursday, in which Joe Feuerherd of the National Catholic Reporter took part, has received extensive and largely positive coverage in the Italian press, including the official outlets of both the Italian bishops and the Vatican – both of which generally reflect important currents in official Vatican thinking.
tObama is set to meet Pope Benedict XVI in the afternoon of Friday, July 10, just after the conclusion of a G8 summit in Italy and just head of the president's visit to Ghana.
tIn Saturday’s Corriere della Sera, Dino Boff, editor of L’Avvenire, the newspaper of the Italian bishops, praised Obama’s “great honesty” and “great intelligence,” saying it was clear that Obama “is not playing the game of trying to divide the Holy See from the American bishops.”