The director of the Vatican press office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, has confirmed that the Pope is available to meet with U.S. President Barack Obama on July 10 at the Vatican.
Pope Benedict XVI is “available” to meet with President Obama “on the afternoon of July 10,” Fr. Lombardi told Europa Press on Wednesday.
Obama will be in Italy July 8-10 for a meeting of the Group of Eight industrialized nations in the earthquake-ravaged town of L'Aquila, east of Rome.
The afternoon meeting between Obama and the Pope is out of the ordinary, since the Pontiff usually meets with heads of state at midday.
To be sure, the Catholic Church vigorously disagrees with President Obama on abortion, embryonic stem-cell research and same-sex “marriage,” but the announcement shows that Pope Benedict wishes to engage the new U.S. president.