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In First Visit to the Vatican, Obama Finds Himself Moved


From NPR’s All Things Considered, some comments by the President:

AUDIE CORNISH, Host: President Obama says he was incredibly moved by his meeting today with Pope Francis at the Vatican. The president and the pontiff met for almost an hour. They discussed the plight of the poor and international conflicts. And there was also discussion of some hot-button issues for the Roman Catholic Church.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I was extremely moved by his insights about the importance of us all having a moral perspective on world problems and not simply thinking in terms of our own narrow self-interests.

POGGIOLI: President Obama said the theme that stitched their conversation together was the importance of empathy in politics as well as in life.

OBAMA: That that’s critical. It’s the lack of empathy that makes it very easy for us to plunge into wars. It’s the lack of empathy that allows us to ignore the homeless on the streets.

The largest bulk of the time was discussing two central concerns of his. One is the issues of the poor, the marginalized, those without opportunity and growing inequality.

POGGIOLI: By the end of the day, Vatican analysts were trying to weigh the significance of the different emphasis given by the president and by the Vatican to the encounter. Watching the footage at the end of the encounter, the body language suggested that a good rapport had been struck between the president and the pope.

The present the pope gave Mr. Obama was a copy of his apostolic exhortation, “The Joy of the Gospel,” which contains a harsh critique of trickle-down economic theories and unfettered markets. The president said he would read it when he is deeply frustrated, certain that it will give him strength and calm him down.   Sylvia Poggioli, NPR News, Rome.


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cross-posted at Café

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