By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
The Vatican has announced that the much anticipated meeting between Pope Benedict XVI and President Barack Obama will take place on July 10.
The Associated Press is reporting that Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said the meeting will take place in the afternoon on the president’s last day in Italy for a G-8 summit meeting in the earthquake-stricken city of L’Aquila and just before he leaves for Ghana.
An afternoon meeting is considered unusual for the Vatican which prefers to schedule these visits for midday. The speculation is that the Vatican sought to accommodate Obama’s busy schedule because of the pope’s interest in meeting with him.
Controversy has been swirling for weeks about the Vatican’s position on Obama after an article appearing in L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican’s daily newspaper, gave Obama a positive review for his first 100 days in office in spite of his pro-abortion policies and an executive order allowing embryonic stem cell research.
Speculation rose even higher when the newspaper was late in joining the dozens of U.S. bishops who denounced Notre Dame University’s decision to grant the president an honorary degree and a platform to speak at this year’s commencement.
However, the paper clarified its position on June 5 in an editorial that said: “President Obama has shown himself to be open to dialogue and the U.S. bishops have welcomed this possibility in a positive manner. But in doing so, they have reaffirmed, and quite rightly, that in dialogue no compromise is ever possible on the fundamental question of the right to life.”
Even though discussions between popes and U.S. presidents usually focus on common concerns about orld events, the pope is fully expected to raise his concerns about Obama’s position on abortion and embryonic stem cell research during the July 10 visit.
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