Ahead of his July 10 meeting with Pope
Benedict in Rome, President Obama has said he “wrestles” to
reconcile his religious faith and gay rights.
In a July 2 meeting with Roman Catholic
reporters, Obama answered questions likely to be raised at the
Vatican, and called the Pope an important figure on the world stage.
“The Catholic Church has such a
profound influence worldwide and in our country, and the Holy Father
is a thought leader and opinion leader on so many wide-ranging
issues,” Obama said. “His religious influence is one that
extends beyond the Catholic Church.”
Social issues such as abortion and gay
rights dominated much of the conversation. On gay rights, the
president said he struggles with his benevolence towards gay men and
“For the gay and lesbian community in
this county, I think it's clear that they feel victimized in fairly
powerful ways and they're often hurt by not just certain teachings of
the Catholic Church, but the Christian faith generally.”
“And as a Christian, I'm constantly
wrestling with my faith and my solicitude and regard and concern for
gays and lesbians,” he added.
“This is trademark Obama,” Dan
Gilgoff, US News & World Report religion reporter, said in
post, “seeming to effortlessly appeal to cultural
conservatives and social liberals in the same breath.”
“Religious folks, cultural
conservatives included, will appreciate that Obama takes his faith
seriously enough that he's struggling with how to reconcile it with
his commitment to gays and lesbians. Social liberals and the LGBT
community will appreciate that he's unequivocal about that
The 45-minute roundtable meeting was
attended by representatives of the Catholic press, including the
Catholic News Service, the National Catholic Reporter,
the National Catholic Register, America magazine,
Commonweal magazine, Catholic Digest, Vatican Radio,
and a Washington Post religion reporter.
Pope Benedict remains doggedly opposed
to gay rights, especially the right of gay men and lesbians to marry.