Obama, Pope discuss social justice, other issues - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

Obama, Pope discuss social justice, other issues

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VATICAN CITY -

President Barack Obama met Pope Francis for the first time at the Vatican on Thursday.

The president described himself as a 'great admirer' of the pontiff. The two men met for talks expected to focus on poverty and social justice.

The Vatican says the Catholic Church's objection to a contraception requirement under the Affordable Care Act was raised during President Obama's visit.

The Vatican says other areas of discussion during Obama's historic visit included abortion, immigration reform, human trafficking and international issues.

The Vatican issued the short statement after Obama met separately Thursday with Pope Francis and Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin. The statement didn't specify which topics were discussed in which meeting.

While describing the meetings as "cordial," it says they reviewed questions relevant for the Catholic Church in the U.S. The statement says that includes "rights to religious freedom, life and conscientious objection," a reference to mandates for contraception coverage under Obama's health care law.

After meeting for almost an hour, Obama and the Pope exchanged gifts.

President Obama presented Francis with a custom-made seed chest containing a variety of fruit and vegetable seeds used in the White House garden. It's a nod to the Pope's decision to open the gardens of his summer residence to the public later this year.

Pope Francis offered President Obama two medallions, and then handed him a copy of his apostolic exhortation, "The Joy of the Gospel", in which he denounces the global economic system that excludes the poor.

The Pope added, "this is for when you're bored."

Obama replied that he will probably read it in the Oval Office.

The Associated Press and NBC News contributed to this report.

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