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White House confirms Pope-Obama visit; ‘we’re not joining a church in Italy,’ says press secretary

June 25, 2009

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs announced that President Barack Obama will meet with Pope Benedict at the Vatican on July 10. In making the announcement, Mr. Gibbs quipped, “we’re not joining a church in Italy.”

The White House released the following transcript of Mr. Gibbs’s remarks.

MR. GIBBS: Just one quick announcement before we get going with questions. On his upcoming trip overseas, on Friday, July 10, the President will visit with the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI to discuss a range of issues, including their shared belief in the dignity of all people. That’s on the upcoming trip.

Q Does he have a church --

MR. GIBBS: I can assure you, April, we’re not joining a church in Italy. (Laughter.)

Q I didn’t ask that.

MR. GIBBS: I know. But you know what I did? I just fast-forwarded right to the follow-up. (Laughter.) I’m going to do that -- that’s actually what I’m going to do all today. So if I don’t answer your question, I will presume your follow-up and answer that instead. (Laughter.)

Q That’s very efficient.

MR. GIBBS: Right, this will be like a 10-minute deal.

Q Is Mrs. Obama going to the Vatican, as well?

MR. GIBBS: She will, as far as I know, be on the entire trip, yes.


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