Nightly News | March 27, 2014
>>> overseas today, a historic meeting between pope francis and president obama . the two discussed a wide range of topics, chuck todd has more.
>> reporter: president obama said his audience with pope francis contained a wide range of discussions, to middle east peace, and shared income and equality.
>> his holiness has the capacity to open people's eyes and make sure this is seen as an issue.
>> reporter: the pope arrived today, welcomed by swiss guards , a slow procession of dignitaries escorted mr. obama where the two sat face to face across his unassuming desk. joined by translators, later they retreated behind closed doors for nearly an hour. it was longer than scheduled and afterwards they exchanged gifts. the president gave the pope a custom-made chest, and the pope gave him a medal, symbolizing peace. the white house viewed this trip as a big domestic political play of the trip, a chance to associate the popular pope francis with the president's own economic agenda. the president said he and the pope did not talk a lot about the social issues that divide them, like contraception and gay marriage , but later in a meeting with vatican officials he did discuss the church's concern over the affordable care act contraception mandate.
>> we discussed briefly the issue of making sure that conscience and religious freedom was observed in the context of applying the law.
>> reporter: the president also made time today for a private tour of the roman coliseum , where the gladiators once did battle.
>> it is unbelievable.
>> reporter: traveling with the president, chuck todd , nbc news, rome.