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At Georgetown poverty forum, President Obama lauds Pope Francis

May 14, 2015

Speaking at a Catholic-evangelical forum on poverty, President Barack Obama praised Pope Francis’s “transformative … sincerity” on poverty.

“We have had disagreements around reproductive issues, or same-sex marriage, or what have you,” the president acknowledged during his remarks, which were delivered on May 12 at Georgetown University. “And so maybe it appears advantageous for me to want to focus on these issues of poverty, and not as much on these other issues.”

He added:

There is great caring and great concern, but when it comes to what are you really going to the mat for, what’s the defining issue, when you're talking in your congregations, what’s the thing that is really going to capture the essence of who we are as Christians, or as Catholics, or what have you, that this is oftentimes viewed as a “nice to have” relative to an issue like abortion. That's not across the board, but there sometimes has been that view, and certainly that's how it’s perceived in our political circles …

And there’s noise out there, and there’s arguments, and there’s contention. And so people withdraw and they restrict themselves to, what can I do in my church, or what can I do in my community? And that's important. But our faith-based groups I think have the capacity to frame this -- and nobody has shown that better than Pope Francis, who I think has been transformative just through the sincerity and insistence that he’s had that this is vital to who we are. This is vital to following what Jesus Christ, our Savior, talked about.

And that emphasis I think is why he’s had such incredible appeal, including to young people, all around the world. And I hope that that is a message that everybody receives when he comes to visit here. I can't wait to host him because I think it will help to spark an even broader conversation of the sort that we're having today.

The president also saluted Georgetown University and “my friend John Carr,” who served until 2012 as executive director of the Department of Justice, Peace, and Human Development of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

 
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