Snippets from Obama’s meeting with Pope

By William Wan President Obama met with Pope Benedict XVI at The Vatican today. Not much detail yet from the … Continued

By William Wan

President Obama met with Pope Benedict XVI at The Vatican today. Not much detail yet from the closed meeting and what they talked about, but here are some interesting scenes from the meeting:

Obama arrives at Vatican around 4 p.m. (Rome time) and is greeted by the colorfully dressed Swiss Guard, a scrum of European-looking photographers and Italian officials all dressed in tuxedoed finery and adorned with medals.

After sitting down for a closed meeting with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s secretary of state, Obama is escoted to Pope Benedict’s study. Sitting across the pope’s desk, the pope was overheard asking about the recent Group of Eight summit. Obama describes them as “very productive…great progress” and says they emerged with “something concrete.”

Obama emerges from meeting about 20-30 minutes later, now accompanied by Mrs. Obama and family.

Mrs. Obama: “It means a great deal to our family.”

Pope: “It’s a great pleasure.”

The Obamas received some gifts from the Pope, including what appeared to be a painting of what looked like St. Peter’s Square as well as some kind of book.

As Obama left, the Pope had some parting words for him, saying “I pray for you.” Obama tells him, “I look forward to a very strong relationship” and “thank you, God bless you.”

Here’s the official White House pool report from the event:

“After meeting with The Vatican’s Secretary of State (we are told he is a kind of Prime Minister), Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Potus and Pope Benedict XVI first met in the Sala del Tronetto with paintings of Raphael on the wall. The pope and the President shook hands, POTUS visibly deeply humbled by the meeting. “Welcome, Mr President” the Pope said. “Thank you so much, it’s a great honor, thank you so much” the President was heard saying. The two then entered the Papal Library, and POTUS sat down opposite the the Pope on the other side of a wooden desk. “You must be used to have your picture taken” the President said. The pope nodded. “I am still getting used to it”, POTUS added. The Pope, speaking in English, said: “you must be getting tired”. The President was heard saying “very productive” in answer to a question by the Pope and in apparent reference to the G8 summit.

“After a one-on-one session, we are told that the President and the Pope were joined by the First Lady and the First daughters. When your pooler was let in, Malia and Sasha were no longer in the Library. POTUS and Michelle Obama, dressed in black, with a black veil, were standing in front of a huge painting by Il Parmigiano at the other end of the Library. The US delegation (Gibbs, McDonough, Axelrod, Jones, a Navy Aide, Mona Sutphen) was let in and the Pope greeted each one of them. Gibbs kissed the papal ring. Each one of them was presented with gifts, white boxes possibly containing a pontifical medal (for the men), rosaries (for the women). The Pope and the President then exchanged gifts. We were told by The Vatican staff that the President was to give the Pope a stole that had been placed on the remains of St. John Neumann, a 19th-century Redemptorist and the first male naturalized U.S. citizen to become a saint. The Pope was to give the President a mosaic representing Saint Peter’s square, an autographed copy of the encyclical “ca ritas in veritate”, bound in white leather, and a pontifical medal. In front of the table where the gifts were displayed, POTUS was heard saying: “we’ll find a place of honor for that” (unclear what gift he was referring to). He also thanked the Pope for reading material for the flight to Ghana, in apparent reference to the Social Encyclical.”


Comments are closed.

Read More Articles

Top 10 Reasons We’re Glad A Catholic Colbert Is Taking Over Letterman’s “Late Show”

How might we love Stephen Colbert as the “Late Show” host? Let us count the ways.

God’s Not Dead? Why the Good News Is Better than That

The resurrection of Jesus is not a matter of private faith — it’s a proclamation for the whole world.

An Untold Story of Bondage to Freedom: Passover 1943

How a foxhole that led to a 77-mile cave system saved the lives of 38 Ukrainian Jews during the Holocaust.

Friend or Foe? Learning from Judas About Friendship with Jesus

We call Judas a betrayer. Jesus called him “friend.”

Fundamentalist Arguments Against Fundamentalism

The all-or-nothing approach to the Bible used by skeptics and fundamentalists alike is flawed.

Mary Magdalene, the Closest Friend of Jesus

She’s been ignored, dismissed, and misunderstood. But the story of Easter makes it clear that Mary was Jesus’ most faithful friend.

The Three Most Surprising Things Jesus Said

Think you know Jesus? Some of his sayings may surprise you.

How to Debate Christians: Five Ways to Behave and Ten Questions to Answer

Advice for atheists taking on Christian critics.

Heaven Hits the Big Screen

How “Heaven is for Real” went from being an unsellable idea to a bestselling book and the inspiration for a Hollywood movie.

This God’s For You: Jesus and the Good News of Beer

How Jesus partied with a purpose.

Jesus, Bunnies, and Colored Eggs: An Explanation of Holy Week and Easter

So, Easter is a one-day celebration of Jesus rising from the dead and turning into a bunny, right? Not exactly.

Dear Evangelicals, Please Reconsider Your Fight Against Gay Rights

A journalist and longtime observer of American religious culture offers some advice to his evangelical friends.