Pope Francis meets President Obama at White House

Pope Francis meets President Obama at White House

Pope Francis held talks with U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House on Wednesday.

The meeting took place before the pontiff parades through streets of Washington on the first full day of his first visit to States.

Francis and Obama see eye-to-eye on some issues like climate change and defence of the poor but are at odds over abortion and gay marriage.

The meeting is expected to be friendly, particularly given the pope’s role in mediating last year’s resumption of diplomatic ties between Washington and Cuba after a chill that lasted more than half a century.

The 78-year-old Argentine pope closes out his day with a Mass at the one of the most important Roman Catholic churches in the United States, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

The pope has surprised some U.S. Catholics with his strong words on climate change and criticism of the excesses of capitalism, with less of an emphasis on issues of sexual morality that some of his predecessors and U.S. bishops had focussed on.

The pope’s priorities line up with some of Obama’s policy objectives, while leaving Catholic Republican presidential contenders, many of whom dispute the science of climate change, scrambling to explain their disagreements.

The White House says it has no major political goals for Wednesday’s meeting.

Tens of thousands of people, both Catholic admirers and curious onlookers, are expected to pack the streets around the Washington Monument and National Mall for the parade after the meeting.

On Thursday (September 24), Francis becomes the first pope to address Congress and then travels to New York to address the United Nations and visit the Ground Zero memorial to the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

He closes his trip on Sunday (September 27) in Philadelphia at a worldwide Catholic gathering on family issues. The concluding Mass there is expected to draw some 1.5 million people.

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