Barack Obama has promised Pope Benedict that he will do all he can to reduce the number of abortions in the United States, according to the Vatican.
Obama and the Pope held private talks for about 40 minutes at the Vatican after the G8 summit in l’Aquila. The US president is also thought to have briefed Pope Benedict on the outcome of the summit, and particularly the pledge of 14 billion euros to help poorer nations feed themselves. Earlier this week the Pope spoke out on the moral consequences of economic decisions. The pontiff gave the president a booklet explaining the Vatican’s opposition to practices such as abortion and embryonic stem cell research. Obama supports abortion rights and has lifted restrictions on funding for stem cell research. After the meeting any differences were put aside as the Pope and President Obama – accompanied by his wife Michelle – again appeared before the cameras and exchanged presents. Earlier Michelle Obama and the couple’s two children were given a private tour of St Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel.