President Obama will meet with Pope Francis, the White House said Tuesday, giving Obama a chance to personally pay tribute to a leader whose agenda he’s publicly admired.
“The president looks forward to meeting with the pope in the near future,” White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters Tuesday.
Obama’s top spokesman did not elaborate on the timing of the gathering.
Earlier Tuesday, Secretary of State John Kerry alluded to Obama traveling to the Vatican to meet with the pope. Kerry visited the Vatican Tuesday but did not meet with Pope Francis.
Obama of late has gone out of his way to highlight the pope’s commitment to fighting poverty.
“I think Pope Francis is showing himself to be just an extraordinarily thoughtful and soulful messenger of peace and justice," Obama said during an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews. "I haven't had a chance to meet him yet. But everything that I've read, everything that I've seen from him, indicates the degree to ... which he is trying to remind us of those core obligations."
The president has invoked the pope’s name in highlighting his own agenda to combat income inequality.
"Across the developed world, inequality has increased,” Obama said in a December speech. “Some of you may have seen just last week, the pope himself spoke about this at eloquent length.”