Frick and Frack on either side of the Pope…
We saw a similar vast difference in accounts of what was said in his phone call with Putin yesterday.
President Obama’s first meeting with Pope Francis produced a little schism of its own.
The Vatican and White House gave starkly different versions Thursday of Mr. Obama’s meeting with Francis.
The president’s account downplayed the Catholic Church’s concerns about religious freedom in the United States and Obamacare’s mandate to pay for contraception.
The pontiff and the president were cordial in the televised portions of their meeting, but a subtle competition to set the agenda played out after the meeting, which went well beyond its scheduled half-hour.
“We actually didn’t talk a whole lot about social schisms in my conversations with His Holiness,” Mr. Obama said at a press conference in Rome. “In fact, that really was not a topic of conversation.”
Mr. Obama deflected a reporter’s question about the extent of his discussion with the pope on the contraceptive mandate by saying that Francis “actually did not touch in detail” on the subject. The administration has been locked in a lengthy legal and political battle with the U.S. Catholic Church hierarchy over Obamacare and issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage.
The Vatican, however, issued a statement after the meeting saying the president’s discussions with Francis and two other top Vatican officials focused “on questions of particular relevance for the [Catholic] Church in [the United States], such as the exercise of the rights to religious freedom, life and conscientious objection” — issues that have fueled divisions between Mr. Obama and the church.