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Can the President and Pope Francis be on the same page?

Roger Caldwell

Roger Caldwell

Can the President and Pope Francis be on the same page?

By Roger Caldwell

      In politics one minute an individual is your enemy, and the next minute they are your friend. Last week two of the most powerful men on the planet sat down for 52 minutes, and discussed income equality, immigration overhauls, and international conflicts. Many people may think that the pope is irrelevant and antiquated, but 1.2 billion people around the world follow his teaching and pay him money every week.

Last week was the first time that President Obama and Pope Francis met each other, and the president acknowledged this was a highlight of his trip through Europe. There are 78 million Americans that follow Catholicism, and it is the largest religious denomination in the United States. America is the fourth largest country in the world that supports Catholicism, and allying us with the pope increases the president’s job approval.

Pope Francis has always been acknowledged for his humility and concern for the poor. He is considered a simple man who tries to build bridges between people of all backgrounds, beliefs, and faiths. Many in the media label Pope Francis a liberal, but he still maintains the church’s teaching on abortion, contraception, and homosexuality.

“The theme that stitched our conversation together was a belief that in politics and in life, the quality of empathy, the ability to stand in somebody else’s shoes and to care for someone even if they don’t look like you or talk like you or share your philosophy, “said President Obama.

There was mutual respect when these two great men sat down to talk to each other. The pope is keenly aware that President Obama is a Black man, and he is aware of the struggles and oppression of Black people in America and all over the world. Pope Francis appears to be a transparent leader, and the two leaders agreed on many different points. President Obama invited the pope to come to America, and House Speaker John Boehner has invited the pope to address a joint session of Congress.

At the end of the meeting, the two leaders exchanged gifts. Pope Francis gave the president a copy of the 224-page manifesto he published in November 2013. In this publication, he urged the church to focus on the poor, while bluntly denouncing inequality and sharply criticizing the market economy.

“I actually will probably read this in the Oval Office when I’m deeply frustrated. I’m sure it will give me strength and calm me down.” said President Obama. Mr. Obama gave Pope Francis fruit and vegetables seeds from the White House garden contained in a box custom made from timber from the Baltimore cathedral, the oldest in the United States.

After President Obama had a friendly meeting with the pope, he then had a meeting with the Vatican secretary of state, which was somewhat contentious. The Obama administration is being challenged by the United States Conferences of Bishops over the employer-sponsored plans under the health care law. There was no meeting of the minds on these issues, and also there was probably some discussion about same-sex marriages.

Even though many people think the pope is a liberal, his life is built around church doctrine. The fundamental tenets and spiritual beliefs that the religion has practiced for hundreds of years are still practiced every day. The Catholic Church is the most powerful religion on the face of the earth, and people believe in the pope, because they are taught to believe from the time they are born.

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