Friday, March 28, 2014

President Obama Meets Pope Francis

In the news this week, President Obama was in Europe, and he stopped by the Vatican to meet with Pope Francis. They talked with each other for 50 minutes, and the following topics came up.
  • Immigration reform. Both the Catholic Church and the Democratic Party support reforming our country's current immigration system, which is not as humanitarian as it should be.
  • Birth control. Obamacare requires (almost) all health insurance plans to provide/cover birth control, which includes sterilizations, contraceptives and abortifacients. The Catholic Church is opposed to birth control. Logically and morally speaking, the church should get a religious exemption to these laws, in the same way that the US government gave the church an exemption from anti-alcohol laws during Prohibition. True, the exemptions were very narrow, but at least they existed.
  • Abortion and embryonic stem cell research. Obama supports these, while the Catholic Church does not. Rather, the church believes that all embryos--i.e. human babies--should be born, rather than aborted or used for experiments. People with long memories noted that Pope Benedict XVI also talked with President Obama about this.
  • War. Presumably, they talked about the current situation with Russia and Ukraine. It is also possible they talked about the Syrian conflict. President Obama supported attacking Syria, due to that country's misuse of chemical weapons, while Pope Francis was very much opposed to starting an international conflict. The church teaches that war must always be a last resort. Catholics have not always followed this teaching, but it has been official since at least the 400s.
  • Human trafficking. The Catholic Church is very much opposed to the practice of buying and selling humans as slaves, especially since the great majority of slaves in the US are sex slaves (as opposed to labor slaves), and the majority of slaves in the US are children. President Obama is equally opposed to the slave trade.
The discussion took place in Pope Francis' library. This was a private meeting between the two men (and their interpreters), and they did not meet in their formal capacity as the leaders of their respective countries. A formal diplomatic meeting took place afterwards, between among President Obama, his entourage, the Vatican's Secretary of State and the Vatican's foreign minister. The US ambassador to the Vatican attended, but I do not know if  Archbishop Vigano, the Vatican ambassador to the US, attended.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Archbishop Vigano didn't. Because he is in the U.S. being an ambassador.