.- U.S. President Barack Obama said that he admires Pope Francis for his spiritual leadership, and in particular for his love, humility and empathy for the poor.
Asked by CNBC on Oct. 2 what he thinks about Pope Francis’ comments in recent interviews, Obama said that he has been “hugely impressed with the Pope’s pronouncements,” although “not because of any particular issue.”
Rather, he said the witness of the Pope’s life has drawn his admiration.
“First of all, he seems somebody who lives out the teachings of Christ. Incredible humility, an incredible sense of empathy to the least of these, to the poor,” Obama said, lauding the Holy Father as “someone who is first and foremost thinking about how to embrace people as opposed to push them away.”
“That spirit, that sense of love and unity, seems to manifest itself not just in what he says, but in what he does,” the president continued.
“For any religious leader, that's a quality I admire, and I would argue, for any leader period, that's a quality I admire.”
Obama has also praised Pope Francis’ predecessor, Benedict XVI.
Upon the announcement of Benedict’s resignation in February 2013, the president issued a statement of “appreciation and prayers,” saying that he had “appreciated our work together over these last four years” and acknowledging that the Catholic Church “plays a critical role in the United States and the world.”