President Barack Obama on Thursday ruled out a political alliance with Pope Francis I to address the question of income inequality.
Obama told reporters at a press conference in Rome that when he’d met earlier Thursday with the pope at the Vatican they had discussed issues of income inequality and poverty, as well as immigration, the war in Syria, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and persecution of Christians.
Asked by a reporter about “forming a strategic alliance” with the pope “to tackle income inequality,” Obama said, “I don’t think that His Holiness envisions entering into a partnership or coalition with any political figure on any issue.”
Obama added, “His job is a little more elevated" than that of a politician. "We’re down on the ground dealing with the often profane, and he’s dealing with the higher powers.”
He added that “there is a potential convergence between what policy makers need to be thinking about and what he (the pope) is talking about” when the pontiff addresses economic inequality.
The pope, Obama said, “reminds us of what our moral and ethical obligations are. It happens also to be good economics and good national security policy. Countries are more stable, they grow faster when everybody has a chance, not just a few have a chance.”
Obama said that “we are in many ways following not just his lead but the teachings of Jesus Christ and the other religions that care deeply about ‘the least of these’” – the final phrase was a reference to the Gospel of Saint Matthew when Jesus says “inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.”