Thursday, July 09, 2009

White House Forcast: "Frank Discussion"

Just before 4pm Rome time (10am Eastern) tomorrow, President Obama will arrive in the Vatican's San Damaso courtyard, from which he'll be escorted to a waiting Pope Benedict and a private audience reportedly expected to run in the half-hour range.

The first meeting between the 44th Commander-in-Chief and the Roman pontiff came up yesterday as the traveling White House pool queried Press Secretary Robert Gibbs en route from Moscow to the G8 Summit that began yesterday in L'Aquila.

Here, from the transcript:
Q When [the President] meets the Pope, Robert, do you think there's going to be frank discussion of their differences on things like abortion, gun control, gay rights, or is it mostly a courtesy call from your view?

MR. GIBBS: I think there will be frank discussion. I think -- I mean, I think that there's a lot that they agree on that they'll get a chance to discuss. We know the Pope has been keenly aware of the President's outreach to the Muslim world. The Pope shares the President's view on reducing the number of nuclear weapons. So I think there's certainly a lot of common ground.

And I actually think even in the issues that you mentioned where there isn't total agreement, I think if you go back and look at what the President said at Notre Dame, there's -- even if we don't see eye to eye on everything, there are steps that can be taken on a number of issues that will show progress, whether it's on something like unintended pregnancy or adoption -- some of those things that I think the Pope and the President will get a chance to discuss, and I assume it will be a very frank conversation.

Q Will there be an announcement coming out of that, you think, from that meeting -- new initiatives or efforts?

MR. GIBBS: I don't know that there will be new initiatives or new efforts as much as -- hopefully we'll get a chance to talk to him about -- the President will get a chance to talk to the Pope about some of those things I mentioned and get his thoughts and input on their implementation and their impact. Obviously he's somebody that gets to see a lot of the world and I think getting his continued support for these efforts is obviously important.
After the audience, a statement summarizing the discussion is customarily released by the Holy See.

Meanwhile, a full English translation's up of Cardinal Georges Cottier's take on Obama from the most recent 30 giorni.

Since its appearance in Italian last week, the article by the retired papal theologian has been viewed as another signal pointing to a cordial Vatican welcome for the President.