The Deacon's Bench

From Catholic News Service:

Pope Benedict XVI welcomed U.S. President Barack Obama to the Vatican July 10, and the two discussed world issues addressed at the Group of Eight summit.

As they met, Obama told the pope, “It’s a great honor; thank you so much.”

The two sat down at a desk in the papal library and began discussing the G-8 summit — the meeting of the world’s wealthy industrialized countries, which concluded that morning in L’Aquila, Italy — and dealt with the economic crisis, climate change and global tensions.

Pope Benedict told the president, “You must be tired after all these discussions.”

The president responded that the meetings marked “great progress” and “something concrete,” although the precise topic they were discussing at that point was unclear.

Obama arrived at the Vatican shortly before 4 p.m., and a squad of Swiss Guards saluted him in the St. Damasus Courtyard of the Apostolic Palace.

U.S. Archbishop James Harvey, prefect of the papal household, was the first to greet the president, and he accompanied Obama to a meeting with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state.

Among the hundreds of people waiting to see Obama pass by on his way to the papal meeting were two members of the Sisters of Our Lady of the Apostles from Ghana.

One them, Sister Felicia Harry, said: “I think it is good he is visiting the Holy Father. They will get to talk face to face on issues they might not agree on. This is a good opportunity for them to share ideas.”

There’s much more at the link. The AP has its first write-up as well.

Stay tuned.

UPDATE: CNS has more details about the meeting:

The church’s position on bioethical issues got marked attention during Pope Benedict XVI’s meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama July 10.

In addition to giving Obama a copy of his latest encyclical, which the pope had been presenting to visiting heads of state since its release July 7, the pope also presented a copy of the Vatican document on biomedical ethics, “Dignitas Personae” (“The Dignity of a Person”).

When presenting the gifts after their 35-minute closed-door meeting, the pope gave Obama a signed, white leather-bound copy of the encyclical, “Caritas in Veritate” (“Charity in Truth”), then indicated the light-green soft-cover instruction on bioethics issued last December by the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

“Oh, what we discussed earlier,” said Obama, referring to their closed-door discussions. “I will have some reading to do on the plane.”

Obama was given the instruction to help him better understand the church’s position on bioethics, Msgr. Georg Ganswein, papal secretary, told journalists in the pool covering the visit.

Meantime, good old reliable Rocco has the official Vatican communique on the confab.

PHOTO:  from Getty

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