Pope Benedict XVI has communicated with Barack Obama twice since the Democrat won the White House — but the first message almost never got through.
The Pope telephoned Obama shortly after Election Day to congratulate him on his electoral success, but the Obama staffer receiving the call didn’t believe it was actually the Pontiff on the line and wouldn’t put the call through.
Benedict was eventually able to get through, however, and he and the president-elect had a “cordial” conversation mainly about cultural issues, according to a Bush administration source with close ties to the Vatican.
When the Pope brought up the subject of abortion, Obama said simply: “We agree to disagree.”
But the source said that Obama did agree with the Pope on the controversial issue of same-sex marriage, saying the two shared a common view that marriage should be only between a man and a woman.
Benedict again contacted Obama by sending him a telegram on Tuesday shortly before presidential inauguration.
“I offer cordial good wishes, together with the assurance of my prayers that Almighty God will grant you unfailing wisdom and strength in the exercise of your high responsibilities,” the Pope stated in the telegram.
“Under your leadership, may the American people continue to find in their impressive religious and political heritage the spiritual values and ethical principles needed to cooperate in the building of a truly just and free society.”
Such a society, the Pope said, must be “marked by respect for the dignity, equality and rights of each of its members, especially the poor, the outcast and those who have no voice.”
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