Obama Vatican Meetings May Hint At Future Cooperation - NBC Chicago

Obama Vatican Meetings May Hint At Future Cooperation



    Two sides may be closer than you think. Mary Ann Ahern reports. (Published Thursday, March 27, 2014)

    President Barack Obama's meeting with not only Pope Francis, but the Vatican Secretary of State, is being seen as an olive branch when it comes to convincing the Catholic Church to provide contraception coverage.

    Former ambassador to the Vatican Miguel Diaz says the two sides may be closer than you think.

    "One of the things we have to remember is yes there are some differences with respect to specific aspects of the Affordable Health Care Act and U.S. bishops, but one of the things we can't forget is fundamental to Catholic teaching is that all should have access to health care. This a human right," Daz said.

    Diaz says there's precedence for the two sides coming together, recalling how Pope John Paul II and President Reagan found common ground on the issue of communism.

    "We could speak about today a different kind of alignment to tear down new walls," Diaz said.

    Mr. Obama and Pope Francis certainly are on the same page on many issues of social justice. The President's Catholic roots can be traced to his days as a community organizer in Chicago 30 years ago.

    "In those days it wasn't organizing around theology it was organizing around life," said Father Bill Stenzel, who was there.

    The Pope's spontaneity has captivated the world and increased Catholics attention to the faith. Loyola University held a Symposium on Pope Francis.

    "There's like a sea change in perceptions of the Vatican and the papacy engaging the world," the Rev. Mark Bosco said.

    Thursday's meeting may be the catalyst that strikes a balance of the issues that divide them, as well as those they see eye-to-eye on.

    "They might both gain, two human beings meet and find common ground, any time any two of us meet we're better off, no matter who we are," Stenzel said.

    Obama invited Pope Francis to the United States during Thursday's visit.

    It appears Francis will be traveling in September 2015 to Philadelphia for the Conference on the Family, but additional cities on his itinerary have not been released.