President Obama has scheduled visit to Vatican City on March 27 to meet with Pope Francis. His late March visit with the Pope will cap off his European trip with stops that include a nuclear summit meeting in the Netherlands and a U.S.-European Union summit in Belgium. The president has previously met Pope Bendict XVI in Vatican City, back in 2009.
The President looks forward to discussing with Pope Francis their shared commitment to fighting poverty and growing inequality,” said a statement from White House press secretary Jay Carney.
The Presidents late March schedule and details about his visit with Pope Francis were announced on Tuesday officially, after Secretary of State John Kerry unintentionally said earlier this month, that the “pontiff” was looking forward to meeting with President Obama. Kerry leaked to reporters during his visit Jan. 14, “I know that the Holy Father is anticipating the visit of President Obama here, and the President is looking forward to coming here to meet with him.” Obama also plans to meet with the Italian President Giorgio Napolitano and Prime Minister Enrico Letta during his visit.
President Obama’s relationship with the Catholic Church in America has been strained at times and he’s hoping to smooth that out little bit with his visit to Vatican City to meet Pope Francis. Catholics in the U.S. have protested the President’s mandate on requiring employers to pay for contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs as part of their health insurance plans. Last November the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement to Obama’s administration voicing their displeasure with unwillingness to accommodate religious organizations saying:
“The Catholic church has long been a leading provider of, and advocate for, accessible, life-affirming health care. … We bishops stand united in our resolve to resist this heavy burden and protect our religious freedom.”
“President Obama To Meet Pope Francis On Mar. 27 To Cap Off His European Trip”