The Vatican has announced the topics discussed during U.S. President Barack Obama’s Friday afternoon audience with Pope Benedict XVI. The two leaders reportedly discussed the promotion of life, the peace process in the Middle East, the global economic crisis, and immigration.
In the course of what a Vatican statement called a “cordial exchange,” the two spoke about the defense and promotion of life and the right to abide by one’s conscience. They also discussed immigration issues such as reuniting separated families.
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi, S.J. told Vatican Radio that the U.S. president “reiterated his commitment to reducing the incidence of abortion.”
On matters of international politics, the Pope and President Obama discussed some global issues highlighted by the G8 Summit. They also talked about the peace process in the Middle East, on which there was reportedly “general agreement,” as well as other regional situations.
According to the Vatican's press office, other current issues under discussion included dialogue between cultures and religions, the global economic crisis and its ethical implications, food security, and development aid especially for Africa and Latin America. The problem of drug trafficking was a topic, as was the importance of educating young people in the value of tolerance.
In a televised appearance after their conversation, President Obama gave Pope Benedict a stole that was draped upon the body of St. John Neumann. The Pope gave the president a mosaic portraying St. Peter’s Square and the Vatican Basilica and an autographed copy of his new encyclical “Caritas in Veritate.”
Before the papal audience, the U.S. president met Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, the Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States.