Obama meets the Pope: the spin begins

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Mar 27, 2014

Speaking to reporters after his meeting with Pope Francis, President Obama said that Church concerns about religious freedom and individual conscience were “not really a topic of conversation” during the exchange.

That’s funny. The Vatican summary of the discussion mentioned “questions of particular relevance for the Church, such as the exercise of the rights to religious freedom, life and conscientious objection..” Since the entire Vatican summary of the conversation encompassed just 98 words, that suggests that the Pope laid heavy emphasis on those questions. Maybe the President wasn’t listening carefully.

Obama did say that he spoke with the Holy Father about “the poor, the marginalized, those without opportunity, and growing inequality.” That sounds entirely plausible, doesn’t it? And yet here’s the interesting thing: The Vatican statement doesn’t mention any of those topics. Not a single word.

If the subject of economic inequality was the main topic of the conversation, why didn’t the Vatican even mention that subject? I can think of two possible explanations:

  1. The people who prepared the official Vatican statement aren’t terribly enthusiastic about promoting the Pope’s agenda.
  2. The people who prepared the official Vatican statement aren’t terribly enthusiastic about promoting someone else’s agenda.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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  • Posted by: rjbennett1294 - Jul. 26, 2017 7:14 AM ET USA

    Oh, brilliant, BRILLIANT article! (Sorry to be so emotional and outspoken, but it's how I'm reacting to everything Dr. Mirus has written here.)

  • Posted by: iprayiam5731 - Jul. 25, 2017 11:16 AM ET USA

    As I continue, my master's research which relates to religious conversion, it is fascinating how clearly I find in all nearly Catholic converts I interview, how important and beautiful the tradition and consistency of the Church in art, doctrine, practice, etc. was to their conversion. Equally fascinating is how many within the Church's leadership refuse to accept that.

  • Posted by: feedback - Jul. 24, 2017 4:46 PM ET USA

    This really is all smoke and mirrors nonsense. Cirignano writes "the God of religion is, for the most part, man's projection of his mind, his fears, his needs. It is a hypothetical god." Not a word about Revelation being the source of man's knowledge of God. Ironically, it is the author's concept of God that appears to be projection of his own mind, his fears and needs. Musings like that used to be found in fringe sectarian publications but not in the Pope's newspaper.

  • Posted by: Retired01 - Jul. 24, 2017 4:03 PM ET USA

    I would agree that, for those who think logically, what these supporters of Pope Francis are trying to do is laughable. But to those who do not think logically, and who want pastoral practices that reject the truth, what Pope Francis' supporters are trying to do is serious and welcome. Sadly,the spreading of these pastoral practices under the cover of the current confusion will likely yield very bad fruits, and will make the Church less relevant in a world thirsting for the truth of Christ.

  • Posted by: jg23753479 - Mar. 28, 2014 8:18 AM ET USA

    Is the implication here that Obama is lying? Our president!?! I'm shocked, SHOCKED, mind you!