July 14, 2009

Obama meets the Pope

by Sara Levy

US President Barack Obama met with Pope Benedict XVI for the first time this week.

Obama visited the leader of the Catholic Church at the Vatican immediately after the close of the G8 summit in Italy.

The world’s economy topped the agenda of their discussions, following a recent papal encyclical that criticised businesses and governments for putting profits ahead of the common good.

It is understood that Obama addressed the Pope on the outcomes of the G8 summit, including $20 billion given to increase food production, and a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050.

As he shook hands with the Pope in front of reports, Obama said the G8 meeting had been “very productive”.

Reports also said the two leaders covered topics on which they disagree, including stem cell research and abortion.

A statement from the Vatican said discussions had covered “questions which are in the interest of all […] such as the defence and promotion of life and the right to abide by one’s conscience.”

Denis McDonough, an Obama aide, said the talks had been respectful.

“They discussed a range of those issues and I think the president was eager to listen to the Holy Father,” McDonough said.

“He is eager to find common ground on these issues and to work aggressively to do that.”

Obama said the 25 minute meeting was a “great honour”.

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