By Pat Ciarrocchi
ROME (CBS) —It’s been a busy week for the Holy Father. For the first time since Pope Francis was named leader of the Catholic Church he met face to face with President Obama.
First a Philadelphia delegation, then America’s top dog.
It was a long walk through the apostolic palace for the President and then, he met the Pope.
This time it was a private audience.
President Obama said, “It is a great honor, I am a great admirer.”
The private discussion, over a wooden desk in the papal library, scheduled for a half hour stretched to 52 minutes.
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter could see how their shared concern about economic inequality would create common ground. He says “I’d love to be a fly on the wall to hear that conversation!”
But it’s the Church’s moral teaching on contraception and abortion that would be at the core of their differences.
Archbishop Charles Chaput, in Rome with the delegation inviting Francis to Philadelphia in 2015, has joined US bishops demanding a change in the Obama health care mandate to fund contraception.
Vatican radio described today’s meeting in the context of a complex phase of the relationship between the Obama administration and the US church.
The health care mandates and legalization of gay marriage are problems with the Church.
Just as the Philadelphia delegation brought gifts, Obama presented the Pope with a chest of fruit and vegetable seeds from the white house garden in honor of his decision to open the gardens of the papal summer residence to the public.
A gift for President Obama could be the reflected glory of a very popular Pope.
The Vatican has also embraced social media and getting their message into the hands of young people.
Villanova student and intern at the Vatican press office, Anna Bauer says, “Pope Francis is so charismatic and he’s so into this new way of communication through Twitter. Instagram and Facebook. Just everything he says encourages that kind of communication.”