President Barack Obama Announces Plans to Visit Pope Francis at the Vatican to Discuss Economic Inequality
U.S. President Barack Obama is making headlines in the Christian community after announcing plans to visit Pope Francis at the Vatican while in Europe. In a statement released by the White House Tuesday, "the president looks forward to discussing with Pope Francis their shared commitment to fighting poverty and growing inequality."
The March 27 meeting will mark the first time the two political icons will meet. The four day trip will also include a nuclear security summit in the Netherlands and a U.S./European summit in Belgium.
In July 2009 Obama met with the previous pope Benedict XVI. Disagreeing on the topics of abortion and stem cell research, the president was given a Vatican document on bioethics that underscored the Catholic church's opposition to using embryos for cloning and in-vitro fertilization.
Both Obama and Pope Francis have a shared economic view and will discuss ways to bridge the gap between the rich and poor, according to the statement.
Political scientist John C. Green says the Pope may be able to convince Catholics in the U.S. to finally start thinking about some of Obama and Francis' shared policies through a religious filter.
"American Catholics as a whole don't tend to take specific policy guidance from the pope, whether it's Pope Benedict or Pope Francis," Green said. "But what the pope can do is to get them thinking about particular issues and thinking about them in distinctly Catholic ways. That kind of rethinking could very well be an advantage to President Obama."