If the United States and the Vatican see anything nearly eye to eye these days it would be the need to handle the gap between rich and poor. Both the White House and the Vatican believe that wealth must be taken from the rich and given to the poor. And now the two entities are going to reach their hands across the gulf to talk about it.
U.S. President Barack Obama will meet with Pope Francis on March 27 at the Vatican to emphasize the need for global wealth redistribution. This shared interest is perhaps the one thing that is drawing the Vatican and the United States together at the moment.
The pope has also made a strong emphasis during his short pontificate on “fighting poverty,” an impossible, but popular idea. “Fighting poverty” is often the excuse used for creating a welfare state. While President Obama emphasizes this for the United States, the pope on the other hand, is aiming for globalization of welfare.
The meeting between the president and the pope will give Obama the opportunity to align himself with the Holy See. The Bible calls it spiritual “fornication.” See Revelation 17:2 and 18:3. And since Roman Catholics are an important political constituency, especially for the Democratic Party, the president will try to find common ground with Catholics through the papal visit.
The president has showered the pope with compliments because of his remarks about helping the poor and criticizing church leaders for obsessing about abortion, contraception and homosexuality, saying that he was “hugely impressed.” He has also said that Pope Francis is “an extraordinarily thoughtful, and soulful, messenger of peace and justice.”
The pope’s comment on hot-button social issues has met with strong approval among American Catholics too, so it is strategically important for President Obama to take advantage of the opportunity to meet with Francis. Perhaps the pope’s remarks were targeted to attract approval from the American public and the president and set the stage for a meeting that will provide an opportunity for the Papacy to regain its footing in American politics. The church has been estranged from the U.S. president because of church teaching on those social issues and other issues.
In any case, the meeting will certainly strengthen ties between the U.S. and the Vatican. “The president looks forward to discussing with Pope Francis their shared commitment to fighting poverty and growing inequality,” said the White House. As usual with political dignitaries, the president will visit the Vatican as part of a trip that includes other stops in Europe, particularly in Belgium, where he will officially visit the European Council and the European Commission for the first time. He will also attend the Nuclear Security Summit in the Netherlands and meet with Italian leaders in Rome.
“The Protestants of the United States will be foremost in stretching their hands across the gulf to grasp the hand of spiritualism; they will reach over the abyss to clasp hands with the Roman power; and under the influence of this threefold union, this country will follow in the steps of Rome in trampling on the rights of conscience.” The Great Controversy, page 588