President Obama met Pope Benedict XVI for the first time in a closed-door meeting at the Vatican that focused on the Catholic Church’s opposition to abortion but covered other topics as well.
The pope gave Obama a copy of his recent encyclical on the global economy, which calls for a redistribution of wealth, among other things. But Benedict also gave him reading material on Catholic bioethics teaching, which Benedict’s personal secretary said would help Obama “better understand” why the church’s positions are at odds with the U.S. president’s.
Obama’s visit to the Vatican July 10 came at the end of the G-8 summit in L’Aquila, 70 miles northeast of Rome. In a departure from papal protocol, the meeting was scheduled for the late afternoon to accommodate the U.S. president’s busy schedule.