by Thomas Reese, S.J. in NCR
The meeting of President Barack Obama and Pope Francis went smoothly, even though there were a couple of bumps in the road. As is understandable, the media focused on the bumps while the Obama administration stressed areas of agreement.
When a president visits the Vatican, the Vatican’s principal focus is international issues (Ukraine, Syria, the Middle East, Africa, refugees, religious freedom, etc.). But the Vatican also always wants to support local bishops when they are in conflict with their government.
This template was followed in the Obama visit.
In its press release following the meeting, the Vatican said the meeting was “cordial,” and “views were exchanged on some current international themes.” It was hoped that “in areas of conflict, there would be respect for humanitarian and international law and a negotiated solution between the parties involved.”
The U.S. government and the Vatican would obviously agree on these issues, although in the past, the U.S. has been more eager to resolve international issues with military means than would the Vatican. Obama reversed his decision to bomb Syria after the pope called for a day of fasting and prayer for peace. The Vatican would also want to see more humanitarian and development aid than the Congress is willing to appropriate….