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 6:32 PM EDT, Mon September 15, 2014
ISIS has slaughtered hundreds. Now nearly 40 nations have agreed to take the fight to the militants. But what can they do?
updated 8:53 AM EDT, Wed September 10, 2014
ISIS has captured the minds of a new generation of global jihadists. What does it mean for al Qaeda?
updated 11:04 AM EDT, Mon September 15, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
updated 11:38 PM EDT, Thu September 11, 2014
Treated with all due respect, volcanoes can offer some stunning vistas. Just don't fall in.
updated 1:22 AM EDT, Fri September 12, 2014
The blogger, the hacker, the PM... and Kim Dotcom? New Zealand's election campaign erupts in scandal.
updated 10:36 PM EDT, Wed September 10, 2014
In the aftermath of that deadly day, the enemy quickly became clear. But now a plurality of extremist threats tests global resolve.
updated 9:21 AM EDT, Wed September 10, 2014
Soviets put stray dogs into orbit. Then, next thing you know...
updated 5:28 AM EDT, Fri September 12, 2014
Her name is Thokozile Matilda Masipa, and she is the woman who will rule whether Oscar Pistorius is a murderer.
updated 10:48 AM EDT, Tue September 9, 2014
As a 10-year-old, this boy first hit the headlines in 1982 when he saved his cat from a fire. This year, he was reported to be a suicide bomber.
updated 11:17 AM EDT, Wed September 10, 2014
After months -- if not years -- of speculation, the tech giant's first foray into wearables has arrived. Here are our first impressions.
updated 4:05 AM EDT, Wed September 10, 2014
Bali might be a popular tourist destination but there are crowd-free corners worth exploring.
updated 7:20 AM EDT, Wed September 10, 2014
Scots are preparing to vote on the future of their country. Will they decide to leave the UK?
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT