President Barack Obama and Pope Francis Meet in Vatican City, Discuss Healthcare Plan and Immigration and Exchange Gifts
Two of the most influential people in the world, President Barack Obama and Pope Francis met at the Vatican in Vatican City this week to share commonalities on immigration, poverty, and the economy.
President Obama's meetings with Pope Francis ranged from discussions about legislative reform that could perhaps solve the problems of the 11 million illegal immigrants in the U.S., to measures that could deal with the aftermath of inequality that is causing income inequality.
"Someone like the Pope, coming from Latin America, [perhaps] knows well about the situation of those who have emigrated, having children born in the United States, but who are forced to live in the shadows and often are deported," Obama said of the Pope's understanding of the immigration issues affecting America, and perhaps the world.
Both influential men also agreed that human trafficking should be stopped.
Obama and Pope Francis spoke privately for 50 minutes without cameras, only with their respective interpreters. Time reported that they both want to bridge the income gap between the rich and the poor. Other issues that come up are, climate change, and workers rights.
What both men perhaps might not agree on is contraception and the rich.
The meeting came two days after the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in a challenge to the Affordable Care Act, Obama's signature accomplishment, on grounds that it violated religious freedom by requiring for-profit corporations to provide insurance coverage for contraception.
The two cannot agree on the rich either. Pope Francis has several times criticized unbridled capitalism, the excesses laid bare by the global financial crisis, and the growing gap between the rich and poor, even in developed countries.
Obama is the 28th U.S. president to visit the pope, making the visit historic in a way. President Woodrow Wilson was the first U.S. president to visit the pope at the Vatican, and former President George W. Bush has visited the Vatican more times than any of the U.S. presidents. (Click here for a timeline of U.S. presidents visiting the pope.)
Obama brought gifts to Pope Francis, and the pope gave Obama a gift in return. This is customary.
"These, I think, are carrots," Obama told the Pontiff, presenting and showing him a pouch from the box, centuries old, which was made from timber from the first cathedral to open in the U.S., in Baltimore.
Pope Francis gave the President two medallions-one symbolizing the need for peace and solidarity between the two hemispheres, and a copy of Evangelii Gaudium, or The Joy of the Gospel. The book was penned by Pope Francis. In it, he calls for a new era of evangelization and a renewed focus on the poor, CNN reported.