"Yes We Vatican!"
Some highlights of what was said during the meeting have filtered down from Vatican Radio and official press statements. (Blog title comes from a witnessed banner in the Vatican press office by a French correspondent.)
In the course of their cordial exchanges, the conversation turned first of all to questions which are in the interests of all and which constitute a great challenge for the future of every nation and for the true progress of peoples, such as the defense and promotion of life and the right to abide by one’s conscience. (According to the radio update, President Obama “reiterated his commitment to reducing the incidence of abortions”)
Reference was also made to immigration with particular attention to the matter of reuniting families.
The meeting focused as well upon matters of international politics, especially in light of the outcome of the G8 Summit. The conversation also dealt with the peace process in the Middle East, on which there was general agreement, and with other regional situations. Certain current issues were then considered, such as dialogue between cultures and religions, the global economic crisis and its ethical implications, food security, development aid especially for Africa and Latin America, and the problem of drug trafficking. Finally, the importance of educating young people everywhere in the value of tolerance was highlighted.”
The gifts exchanged were:
From pope to president–a framed mosaic of St. Peter’s, an autographed copy of his new encyclical Caritas in Veritate, and his 10k word apostolic letter on bioethics and stem cell research entitled Dignitatis Personae. Obama promised to read them on the plane home.
From president to pope–a stole worn by St. John Neumann, a 19th-century Redemptorist priest who is the patron saint of sick children and immigrants. Born in what is now the Czech Republic in 1811, he died in Philadelphia in 1860, was beatified in 1963, and canonized in 1977 by Paul VI.
President Obama reportedly hand delivered a sealed letter from Senator Kennedy addressed to the Holy Father and asked Pope Benedict to pray for the ailing senator. After the papal audience President Obama had a 10 minute phone conversation with Sen. Kennedy.