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Obama at the Vatican

President Obama met with Pope Benedict XVI today for the first time, capping off his overseas trip to the G8 summit in Italy before heading on to Ghana.  The
30-minute meeting was generally viewed positively by onlookers on both sides as the U.S. President and Roman Catholic Pontiff shared their interests in giving aid to the poor and pushing for a Middle East peace agreement. 

However, the big elephant in the room was clearly the two leaders' deep disagreements on some prime ethical issues.  During the short meeting, Pope Benedict stressed the church's strong opposition to abortion and stem cell research.  A statement released from the Vatican following the meeting stated:
In the course of their cordial exchanges, the conversation turned first of all to questions which are in the interest of all and which constitute a great challenge ... such as the defense and promotion of life and the right to abide by one's conscience.
Obama delivered a personal note to Pope Benedict from Sen. Ted Kennedy and, in case Obama didn't get the message the first time, the Pope presented him with a copy of a Vatican document on bioethics that further outlines the Church's opposition to using embryos for stem cell research, cloning and in-vitro fertilization.

At the conclusion of the meeting, the President once again declared his support for reducing the number of abortions performed in America, a sentiment he shared earlier this summer with an audience at the University of Notre Dame.


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