reeseHeadshotWebby Thomas Reese, S.J. in NCR

The leaders of two of the world’s superpowers, one political and the other spiritual, will meet in Rome on Thursday. As with any important international meeting, the media will focus on areas of conflict, and liberals and conservatives will try to spin the results to support their causes.

Obama and Pope Francis

Conservatives will predict that President Barack Obama will get a tongue-lashing from Pope Francis on abortion and on the contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act. Liberals will have Obama and Francis singing a duet.

What is likely to happen when Obama visits Pope Francis? Two earlier visits give us a good indication.

Obama and Pope Benedict XVI

This will not be Obama’s first visit to the Vatican. He met with Pope Benedict XVI in July 2009, and the visit went smoothly. Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi told reporters after the audience that “great serenity and great cordiality” characterized the meeting. The pope “seemed extremely satisfied with how the meeting went.” He said the pope found Obama to be “attentive and ready to listen.”…

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