.- Pope Benedict XVI received President Barack Obama this afternoon in his private library, and after 36 minutes of private conversation, the pair emerged without providing any details about their topics of conversation. Nevertheless, the Holy See revealed that the Pope gave Obama an “unannounced gift”--a Vatican document on bioethics and the right to life.
"The G8 has been very productive, 20 billion dollars have been allocated [to poor countries]; that's something concrete," President Obama told the Pope when he asked about the summit, as photographers and journalists were ushered out of the Papal library.
The meeting between the Pope and the U.S. President started at 4:25 p.m. local time, after an unusually short meeting of ten minutes with the Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.
After the private conversation, and again in front of the cameras, President Obama gave the Pontiff a stole that was drapped upon the body of St. John Neumann from 1988 to 2007. The Pope instead presented the president with a mosaic portraying St. Peter's Square and the Vatican Basilica, and an autographed copy of his latest social encyclical “Caritas in Veritate.”
“I will have something to read on the plane,” President Obama joked after receiving the encyclical.
In addition to his family, Obama’s entourage included Kaye Wilson, General Jim Jones, Denis McDonough, Mona Sutphen, Robert Gibbs, David Axelrod, Julieta Valls (currently responsible for the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See), Alyssa Mastnaco Clay Beers, Melissa Winter, Joseph Clancy and interpreter Elisabeth Ullman. They all received commemorative medals and blessed Rosaries.
At the end of the meeting, the Pope said in English, "I pray for you and bless your work."
"I am very grateful, I hope we will have fruitful relationships," the President responded.
Despite the fact that the Vatican did not release an official statement about the nature of the meeting, the “unannounced” gift to Obama of the 2008 document "Dignitas Personae" on bioethics and the right to life, could be a signal of the nature of at least part of their conversation.