“The President looks forward to discussing with Pope Francis their shared commitment to fighting poverty and growing inequality,” said the White House in a statement.
Obama and the pontiff will meet on March 27 in Vatican City, part of a four-day tour of Europe that will also take the president to the Netherlands, Belgium and Italy.
Obama will begin his overseas trip by participating in the Nuclear Security Summit on March 24 and 25 in the Netherlands, the White House said, “where world leaders will highlight progress made to secure nuclear materials and commit to future steps to prevent nuclear terrorism.”
From the Netherlands, Obama will head to Brussels for a U.S.-European Union summit on March 26 along with the presidents of the European Council and European Commission. The White House said that it would be Obama’s “first visit to the EU institutions.” While in Brussels, Obama is slated to also meet with the NATO secretary general.
The president will then head to the Vatican and wrap up his trip in Rome meeting with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano and Prime Minister Enrico Letta.
Secretary of State John Kerry said last week during a visit to the Vatican that Obama hoped to meet soon with the pope, but did not provide a time frame.
Obama has publicly praised Francis, the first pope from South America, and cited his comments on helping the poor to boost the president's own domestic agenda on income inequality.
Obama has called income inequality the “defining challenge” of our time and vowed to focus his second term on increasing opportunities for lower income Americans.
In an interview last year, Obama said the pope had shown himself to be a “very thoughtful and soulful messenger of peace and justice.”