(CNN) - President Obama presented Pope Benedict XVI a letter from Sen. Edward Kennedy during their meeting at the Vatican Friday, and asked the Pontiff to pray for the senator, who is being treated for brain cancer.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters the president called the Massachusetts Democrat after the meeting. Gibbs said the two spoke for about 10 minutes as Air Force One left Rome heading for Ghana, "telling him he had delivered the letter on his behalf to the Pope."
The letter was described as personal. According to Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough, "the contents of the letter were not known to anyone I know of except Senator Kennedy."
McDonough said Obama and the Pope discussed Kennedy at the end of their half-hour discussion. He told reporters the president "asked that the Holy Father pray for ...Sen. Kennedy, who as we all know is ill, and whose brother obviously broke an important barrier in our country by being the first Catholic president," according to a transcript released by the White House.
The 77-year-old Kennedy was diagnosed with the brain tumor after suffering seizures in May 2008.