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 8:23 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Wilson Raj Perumal tells CNN how he rigged World Cup games: "I was giving orders to the coach."
updated 5:20 AM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
Our whole solar system appears to be inside a searing gas bubble, scientists say.
updated 8:02 PM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
One journalist murdered, another still being held by ISIS -- a ransom negotiator talks to CNN about the delicate business of trying to get a hostage home alive.
updated 7:55 AM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
The accidental killing of a gun instructor raises an "absurd question," writes Mel Robbins.
updated 8:55 AM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
ISIS has made surprise gains in Iraq and Syria in recent months, but may begin to suffer setbacks on the battlefield.
updated 2:44 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
The fear of Russian invasion is receding but peace may still be tricky to find.
updated 8:28 AM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
Was a police officer justified in shooting and killing Michael Brown?
updated 4:15 AM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
Don't like the country you live in? Meet the people who created their own "micronations."
updated 5:57 PM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
The signs exist that indicate U.S. airstrikes into Syria are on the way.
updated 5:46 AM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
We asked you what you would like to know about Ebola. Experts answer some of your most common questions and concerns.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT