Skip to main content

Obama to visit Pope Francis in March

By Jason Hanna and Kevin Liptak, CNN
updated 9:31 AM EST, Tue January 21, 2014
Pope Francis in the Rome parish of the Sacro Cuore di Gesu for a pastoral visit on January 19, 2014.
Pope Francis in the Rome parish of the Sacro Cuore di Gesu for a pastoral visit on January 19, 2014.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • President Obama and the Pope will discuss poverty and inequality, the White House says
  • The visit will be the first between the two
  • Obama met with Francis' predecessor, Benedict XVI, in 2009
  • The President will also to visit the Netherlands and Belgium

(CNN) -- President Barack Obama will meet with Pope Francis for the first time on March 27 at the Vatican, the White House announced Tuesday.

Obama's visit with the leader of the Roman Catholic Church will be part of a larger European trip that the President will take that month.

"The President looks forward to discussing with Pope Francis their shared commitment to fighting poverty and growing inequality," a White House news release said.

Obama raised the Pope's stance on inequality in an economic address in December.

Does video show Pope doing exorcism?
Pres. Obama's remarks on race

"Across the developed world, inequality has increased," Obama said. "Some of you may have seen just last week, the Pope himself spoke about this at eloquent length. 'How can it be,' he wrote, 'that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?' "

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters last week -- after his own visit with the Vatican's secretary of state -- that Obama would soon meet with Francis. But Kerry did not specify when.

New Yorker profile shows a weathered Obama five years in

Obama met Francis' predecessor, Benedict XVI, in 2009. That meeting, which took place at the Vatican, was Obama's only meeting with a Pope.

Obama will start his trip on March 24 in the Netherlands, where he will attend the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague and meet with Dutch officials.

He then will go to Brussels, Belgium, for a March 26 summit with the Presidents of the European Council and the European Commission, and also will visit with the NATO secretary general and Belgian officials, the White House said.

Additionally, Obama will meet with Italy's Prime Minister and President in Rome.

Obama's presidency has been marked by some high-profile clashes with the Catholic Church, including over abortion and contraception. But Francis' approach to world economic issues is widely seen as more in line with Obama's own approach than that of Benedict, who stepped down last year.

In an MSNBC interview last year, Obama called Francis an "extraordinarily thoughtful and soulful messenger of peace and justice."

"I haven't had a chance to meet him yet," Obama said. "But everything that I've read, everything that I've seen from him, indicates the degree to, to which he is trying to remind us of those core obligations."

U.N. committee on sexual abuse grills Vatican officials

CNN's Jim Acosta contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:10 AM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
In South Korea, volunteer divers are risking their lives to rescue victims of the sunken ferry.
updated 3:15 PM EDT, Wed April 23, 2014
Park Jee Young, 22, helped passengers escape as the Sewol ferry sank -- giving out life jackets while refusing to wear one herself.
updated 12:43 PM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
What did outgoing manager David Moyes get wrong in his six months with English Premier League football team Manchester United?
updated 1:36 PM EDT, Wed April 23, 2014
In honor of Shakespeare's birthday, here are 15 of the world's most amazing theaters.
updated 1:34 PM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
CNN exclusive: Australian officials are hammering out a new agreement for widening the Flight 370 search area.
updated 8:28 AM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
Malaysian officials sent to brief Chinese families are armed with little to no information.
updated 11:45 AM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
When a team of Indian surgeons opened up the stomach of a 63-year-old man, they had no idea they'd extract a fortune.
updated 3:01 AM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
Do these photos CNN of gun-toting men wearing green uniforms prove Russian forces are in eastern Ukraine?
updated 1:11 PM EDT, Wed April 23, 2014
If the Duchess wears it, then your fashion career is sorted for life.
updated 9:30 PM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
Tucked away near the border with Cameroon, this poor corner of Nigeria is no stranger to such brazen, violent acts.
updated 8:34 AM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
An infant mountain Gorilla sits in the dense jungle canopy on the edge of Uganda's Bwindi National Park in this 29, January 2007 photo. Bwindi, or the 'Impenetrable Forest' as it is known to many tourists is home to the majority of Uganda's rare and endangered mountain gorilla population where plans are underway to habituate two more gorilla family groups to counter growing demand from a flourishing gorilla trek tourism business, a major source of income for the Uganda tourism Authority. AFP PHOTO / STUART PRICE. (Photo credit should read STUART PRICE/AFP/Getty Images)
Tthe constant threat of poaching, deforestation and human diseases means the world's mountain gorillas could be completely wiped out.
updated 9:33 AM EDT, Wed April 23, 2014
Prince George takes a special interest in an Australian animal on a zoo trip.
updated 10:02 PM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
How could a teenage stowaway survive hours in a jet's sub-zero wheel well at 38,000 feet?
updated 7:15 PM EDT, Wed April 23, 2014
Browse through images you don't always see on news reports from CNN teams around the world.
updated 6:58 AM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
See what life is like for superyacht stewardesses-in-training. One thing's for certain -- they can never say "no."
updated 10:57 PM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
Home of Bruce Lee, divine dim sum, lofty buildings, loftier real estate prices and easy access to the great outdoors.
ADVERTISEMENT