Hope all is well on this very chilly 55 degree Wednesday evening up here in Tallahassee, as 40 of us are participating in the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops “Catholic Days at the Capitol“. Our meetings began at 8:45 this morning with another important one at 1:15 pm this afternoon. And, there is a critical meeting at Governor Rick Scott’s office at 11:00 a.m. today March 27th.
But, another really big meeting is happening March 27th, at the Vatican. The meeting is the first between Pope Frances and President Obama, it is like oil meeting with water? Oxymoron is a word that comes to my mind. This meeting is almost like Al Capone meeting with Herbert Hoover…Bernie Madoff meeting with Mother Teresa…Pete Rose with MLB Commissioner, Bowie Kuhn.
You get the picture. We just pray that Obama gets the “real picture”, the “bigger picture”.
For starters, the pope does not speak English. President Obama does not speak Italian or Latin. No teleprompter. Not much communication between the two? I feel for the interpreter. I feel even more for Obama by the time the former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio gets through with him. We pray that the President uses his two big ears.
Where does Lesson I begin? Where does the Holiest of all Catholics in the world begin with the most “Pro-Abortion” President the United States has ever seen in its 238 year history? Where does the 266th pope of the Holy Catholic Church, who has showed the entire world what it means to meet the people in the streets; to humbly work with the poor; and to embrace the entire world by inviting them to the banquet table by way of his “Global Open House” – begin with a former “community organizer” who spends more money on rounds of golf in one year than the pope will spend in his entire papacy?
Where in GOD’s name does Pope Francis begin with Barack Obama? Better question: Where does he end?
As a devout Catholic and as a supporter of Pope Francis, my prayer is that the pope covers four critical topics with President Obama in their first-ever meeting:
1.) Pro-Life vs. Abortion
2.) Same sex Marriage
3.) Obamacare contraception mandate
4.) Religious Freedom
If the pope is successful in planting a few seeds with this progressive President and he is able to convert a portion of Obama’s heart, then we may have a prayer. I pray that President Obama puts his politics aside and comes to the meeting with some type of humility. That he puts his ego away and honors our Holy Father with some type of reverence.
There is a lot at stake here and GOD only knows when these two will ever meet again. Obama met with the former Pope Benedict XVI Emeritus a few years back and their 15 minute meeting ran into 30 minutes but not much was accomplished. This time around, I believe that Pope Francis will have a profound effect on President Obama as I pray that he focuses on the sanctity of life with him and shows him that the Sixth Commandment clearly states “Thou Shalt Not Murder” and the Fourth Commandment, Honor thy Mother and thy Father.
U.S. President Barack Obama is set to travel to Vatican City to meet Pope Francis for the first time Thursday, hoping that perhaps some of the pontiff’s seemingly universal popularity will rub off on him before he leaves
The focus of the conversation when President Barack Obama meets Pope Francis on Thursday is expected to be the gap between the rich and the poor. Obama has called income inequality “the defining challenge of our time,” and Pope Francis has made the plight of the poor the centerpiece of his papacy. “One of the things that the Pope has done globally is put the issue of poverty back on the list,” says Stephen Schneck, director of the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies at the Catholic University of America in Washington.
For Obama, whose job-approval rating slipped to a lowly 41% earlier this month, the meeting is a rare chance to share a common platform — both physically and in terms of policy — with a Pontiff who enjoys the popularity of a media superstar. “It would be terrific for any politician on the planet to have his picture taken next to Pope Francis right now,” says Schneck, who served during the last election as national co-chair of Catholics for Obama. “Here in the United States, politicians like Paul Ryan are talking about poverty almost every day, and I think we have to credit the Pope with that.”
In the first year of his papacy, Francis has shifted the Catholic conversation toward Obama’s side of the court, lowering the heat on culture-war battles like gay marriage in favor of an emphasis on the least fortunate. But the two men may find that they also have plenty on which to disagree. The meeting comes two days after the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in a challenge to the Affordable Care Act, Obama’s signature accomplishment, on grounds that it violated religious freedom by requiring for-profit corporations to provide insurance coverage for contraception. It’s an issue repeatedly stressed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and which Francis is likely to raise.
The visit will be the second Obama has made to the Vatican, and his previous appearance, along with a meeting in January between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his counterpart Pietro Parolin, offer hints of what the President can expect. In 2009, Obama met with Francis’ predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI. The two talked for a little less than half an hour, nearly double the 15 minutes that had been allotted. In a conversation that seemed to be a search for common ground, the two discussed immigration, the global economic crisis and the peace process in the Middle East. Benedict raised the issue of abortion, and Obama pledged to do everything in his power to reduce their numbers.
EDITORS UPDATE: The Heritage Foundation reported:
During a meeting today, Pope Francis talked to President Obama about religious freedom, an issue that has come under heightened scrutiny in recent years as religious business owners have objected to Obamacare’s contraceptive and abortion-inducing drugs coverage mandates.
According to the Vatican, Francis and Obama “discussed questions of particular relevance for the Church, such as the exercise of the rights to religious freedom, life and conscientious objection, as well as the issue of immigration reform.”
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court heard arguments from two family-owned businesses objecting to Obamacare coverage mandates on the grounds that such mandates violated their freedom to run their businesses in accordance with their religious beliefs.
The Pope and Obama had a “cordial meeting,” per the Vatican statement, and also discussed “their common commitment to the eradication of human trafficking throughout the world.”