POLITICS: PennAve

Obama: Pope Francis a 'wonderful man'

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Politics,White House,Barack Obama,PennAve,Freedom of Religion,Meghashyam Mali,Religion,Pope Francis,Contraception

President Obama praised Pope Francis as a “wonderful man” and said that he was struck by the pontiff's “humility and kindness” during their first meeting.

“He projects the kind of humility and kindness that is consistent with my understanding, at least, of Jesus’ teachings,” said Obama in an interview with CBS News’ Scott Pelley, aired on Friday morning. “He seems to have a very good sense of humor.

“I think that his simplicity and his belief in the power of the spiritual over the material reflects itself in everything that he says and does, and I suspect, my sense is, that he is a little bit uncomfortable with all the trappings of being pope,” Obama continued. “That’s not his style and that is part of why he has been so embraced around the world.”

Obama and the pope met at the Vatican on Thursday and spoke for over 45 minutes. The meeting also provided Obama a chance to repair his relations with Catholic leaders, many of whom have been staunch critics of the administration’s contraception mandate.

In a statement after the meeting, the Vatican said the two leaders had “discussed questions of particular relevance for the Church, such as the exercise of the rights to religious freedom, life and conscientious objection, as well as the issue of immigration reform.”

The president left Europe after a week in the Netherlands, Belgium and Italy for Saudi Arabia on Friday.

"People get a sense that first and foremost he sees himself as a priest and a disciple of Christ and as someone who is concerned with the least of these,” said Obama of the pope.

“Nothing is more powerful than someone who seems to live out their convictions.”

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