Ronan Farrow Daily   |  March 27, 2014

Obama and Pope Francis meet for the first time

The President stopped by the Vatican as part of his European tour and spoke with Pope Francis for 52 minutes. Sister Helen Prejean and Raymond Arroyo discuss.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> like people around the world i've been incredibly moved by his compassion and message of inclusion, i was grateful to have the opportunity to talk about the poor, the excluded.

>> that was president obama talking about his first historic meeting with pope francis today. take a listen.

>> wonderful to meet you. thank you so much. thank you.

>> the president stopped by the vatican as part of his week long overseas tour. in his conversation with the pope was distinctive in one respect, time, it was 52 minutes long. president's meeting with francis 's predecessor pope benedict barely lasted a half hour. they are two men who you would think have more common ground than disagreements, both global leaders and swept into office on the promise of change and both rail regularly against inequality and both graced the cover of " rolling stone ", looking good gentlemen, but idealogical divisions that simmer underneath the surface of this relationship and they are not small divisions. the obama administration and the vatican aren't on the same page when talking about abortion, same-sex marriage and directly at odds with some of america's economic practices. to make common sense of both of this, i'm going to turn to someone of the cloth and regular vatican watcher, first is helen prejaen a member of congregation of st. joseph and basis for susan sarandon 's character in "dead man walking" and the world over network, and best selling author. thank you both for joining us.

>> thank you.

>> i'll start with you, raymond. what does president obama get out of this meeting and what do you think pope francis gets out of it? his popularity is at an all-time high.

>> the president came to the pope primarily because these are two heads of states coming together. let's face it, the president is at a 44% approval rating and pope francis , 88% approval rating . he's trying to get out of this -- the president that is, what russell crow and philomena hope to get out of it, a little of francis pixie dust . at this moment with all that's going on in the east and with ukraine and russia, pope -- president obama , rather is not one of the most influential men. i think there's a little bit of political jujitsu, this photo is worth its weight in gold. what the pope gets out of this, a moment with the most -- leader of the world super power , a moment to bend his ear on issues of import, not only to the church but to those who are voiceless and have no voice at all.

>> and as we talk the about, there are some areas of common ground particularly on economic policy , certainly at least with respect to broad aspirations where the hope is they can align and people can connect with the shared equality agenda. pope francis recently wrote a powerful critique of income inequality and said, quote, just as the commandment thou shall not kill sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life , today we have to say thou shall not to an economy of exclusion and inquality. such an economy kills. isn't this at odds with america's capitalist free market?

>> no, pope francis comes from argentina and watched what happened when his country went into recession and had to default on their debt because they were being told to cut out social programs. pope francis has been very strong about economy as inclusion. i'm very happy about pope francis and that emphasis on the poor. we have 47 million people who are poor in this country. we have 48 million who don't have health care . i as a catholic sister, the nuns of this country have been working hard to -- on the economy inequality. one percent controlling so much of the world's wealth then being able to control the politics and lobbyists and to be able to get their laws and policies in. pope francis comes at it from the point of view and you can see he knows his stuff because he's come from the ground up, living among poor people and seeing the struggle of poor people . i see poverty as very related to. i work with the death penalty to educate the american people to end this thing. whose on death row ? poor people . who doesn't have health care ? poor people . so that exclusion gives you some of the worst misery statistics and just like you can't get health care , you also can't get decent defense when you're on trial for your life. so where are the poor in this country, 2.3 million are incarcerated.

>> you're right to point out it's at the heart of a number of social justice issues and really interesting to note how political some of these social justice causes that the pope raises are, including a lot of economic ones and he has in some sense put his money where his mouth is. he has opened up the vatican banks for the first time.

>> right.

>> i'll turn to you, sir, what do you think is the significance of that move?

>> opening up the vatican bank ?

>> that's right and his economic reform agenda.

>> look, this has been a long process of the benedict xvi initiated this. this new commission overseen by cardinal george pell , an amazing figure from australia. he will no doubt bring transparency to this. with the lay involvement, i think you'll see a more efficient and stream lined vatican bank . francis wants it to serve the people as sister helen was saying, i'm a new orleanian so i --

>> to extend mercy to those who have been convicted to eradicate the death penalty . pope francis raised his voice for the other people who have no voices, the unborn, for those who are about to be deported. it's an entire consistent ethic of life that does not fit comfortably with either the democratic or republican agenda. it is -- he is a man of great moral leadership and tender man. i loved his approach when he sat down with president obama . the first thing he said was, i want you to feel very much at home here. that's awfully hard to i think turn away from. you can see the president was moved --

>> one thing you pointed out, so much of the popularity off the back with respect to his image and humility he conveys in every public appearance. sister prejean, one of the most contentious issues is what the president referred to, told us in the summary, quote, they talked about the rights of religious freedom and life and con shent shus objection. given the birth control mandate, how closely do you think the pope is watching that debate, specifically in the united states ? do you think that's something that maybe at the specific level could have come up, this hobby lobby case and can businesses have religious rights?

>> sure and the supreme court will deal with that. if you followed anything of the oral arguments, they'll find a way to deal with that that private businesses have a right to make certain moral demands on the people that work for them. notice what the pope has his eye on. it's going to be a worldwide senate for catholics to look at these very issues of contraception and catholics to look at children of same-sex marriages. his approach is always that of the gospel, always to treat persons with dignity. so we're going to have ongoing discussion at a worldwide level on these issues we haven't had in a long, long time.

>> that is a huge flock both united states and abroad. this outreach is certainly something with a lot of political significance. thank you, really appreciate you both weighing in on