March 13th, 2013
08:21 AM ET
2 years ago

Obama: An American pope would 'preside just as effectively'

(CNN) - As cardinals gather at the Vatican to elect a new pope, President Barack Obama said he believes U.S. politics wouldn't stand in the way of an American pope doing his job.

"It seems to me that an American pope would preside just as effectively as a Polish pope or an Italian pope or a Guatemalan pope," the president said in an interview that aired Wednesday morning on ABC's "Good Morning America."

Since Benedict XVI resigned at the end of last month, some American names have circulated in media reports as possible contenders for the papacy, including U.S. cardinals Sean O'Malley of Boston and Timothy Dolan of New York.

Critics argue an American pope would be controversial, saying the Vatican would then be too closely tied to Washington.

Asked if an American pope would take orders from the president, Obama made a joke about the at-times thorny relationship between the Obama administration and the Catholic Church.

"I don't know if you've checked lately but the Conference of Catholic bishops here in the U.S. don't seem to be taking orders from me," he said, chuckling.

Last year, the administration faced tense scrutiny after it issued a ruling that required religiously-affiliated institutions, such as hospitals and universities, to include contraception coverage in health insurance plans for employees–a measure met with strong pushback from Catholics. The White House eventually proposed an amended ruling, allowing those institutions to opt out of the mandate.

Obama, who's not Catholic, offered no preference for the pope in the interview.

"My hope is based on what I know about the Catholic Church–and the terrific work that they've done around the world and certainly around this country helping those who are less fortunate–is that you have a pope who sustains and maintains what I consider the central message of the Gospel. We treat everybody as children of God. We love them the way Jesus Christ taught us to love them."


Filed under: Faith • President Obama
soundoff (121 Responses)
  1. pame

    In that case the US would be finally recognized as "The New Roman Empire."

    March 13, 2013 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  2. Richard

    A U.S Pope! then all cardinals will become gay!

    March 13, 2013 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  3. Ty

    Not going to happen. America is no longer liked much.

    March 13, 2013 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  4. illinidiva

    Well.. I'm so glad that the Catholic Church got Obama's blessing on this.. sarc off// And I'm rooting for Dolan because it would make Obama's head go 'xplodey.

    "The only conceivable American Cardinal that could get elected would be Dolan, and that would be a disaster. Dolan is an activist who has inserted himself into US politics. If elected pope he would attempt to run the US government, not the other way around."

    The only reason why Dolan got involved in American politics is because Obama decided to meddle in internal Catholic Church affairs and demand that they provide employees with free birth control, something against Catholic teachings. Outside abortion, birth control, and marriage, Catholic social teaching is actually very liberal. For instance, Dolan probably has a highly favorable view of Obamacare outside of the birth control mandate. He has spoken in favor of gun control.

    March 13, 2013 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  5. Matthew

    No way Americans get a Pope. We have one of the most insincere Catholic bases in the world. We want to change God and His commands to fit into our lives and not follow or humble ourselves before Him. We have a lot of people over here who openly mock God and the Church in public. No way we get a Pope. The Catholics in Asia, Africa, and Southern Europe definitely won't vote for an American. They consider us a godless culture and rightfully so.

    March 13, 2013 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  6. Scott

    Want he was really thinking.........but not as effectively as me.

    March 13, 2013 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  7. Sniffit

    "Nobody can predict the future using the Bible"

    And of course, my favorite response to that one is always..."but but but...the Bible was written by GOD!!!" haha

    March 13, 2013 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  8. Bud

    Is there ANYTHING that Obama does not have an opinion on? The NCAA tourney? His wife at Academy Awards?

    March 13, 2013 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  9. joep222

    "My hope is based on what I know about the Catholic Church–and the terrific work that they've done around the world and certainly around this country helping those who are less fortunate–is that you have a pope who sustains and maintains what I consider the central message of the Gospel. We treat everybody as children of God. We love them the way Jesus Christ taught us to love them."

    Mr. Obama, you do not know the gospel because the Roman Catholic churches' teaching contradicts the gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel teaches that salvation comes from Jesus Christ alone, by faith alone, by His grace alone. The Roman Catholic church teaches works based salvation.

    The Roman Catholic churches teaches of purgatory to make oneself righteous before God, thus negating the efficacy of Jesus Christ atoning work of the cross.

    The Roman Catholic church teaches the daily re-sacrificing of Jesus Christ through the unbiblical practice of the mass. Jesus said at the cross, "It is finished".

    The Roman Catholic church teaches to pray to dead saints, with no biblical support for this.

    The Roman Catholic church teaches that Mary is a co-redemptrix and intermediary and that she was sinless. The Bible teaches us that Jesus is the only intermediary between man and the Father and that no one is righteous before God, not one.

    There are many other false teaching in Roman Catholicism, so they do not teach the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
    ------------------

    We are not all children of God, that is a false teaching.

    Those who reject Jesus Christ are children of the devil, children of wrath.

    March 13, 2013 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  10. Padraig

    No, I don't think this will happen. There are may views of the Catholilc church and their leaders. One persons mention that Cardinal Dolan would meddle in our goverment affarirs, could be but Pope's in general have been attempting to change the thoughts of various governments. Pope John Paul II played a signifcant part of the downfall of the Soviet Union, Poland, and asked countries like the US to forgive and write off the debts of all third world countries.

    A prime example of what a leader within the Catholic church would have been Cardinal O'Connor. He was pro-life and supported many decisions that many liberal Catholilcs did not appreciate but he also was a leader in supporting people inflicted with HIV whether gay or not, he was critical to the US inovlvement in counter revolutionary work in Central America, and many other things that conservatives would be unhappy with. He understood the value of life and felt everyone had value and need to be respected.

    It will be a difficult time for whoever is elected. There are many issues that need to be addressed. God help him.

    March 13, 2013 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  11. vbscript2

    I think it's very unlikely that the pope will be American (at least not in the sense of from the U.S.) South or Central American is possible due to the large density of Catholics there, but the U.S. is a relatively non-Catholic nation.

    March 13, 2013 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  12. Jocho Johnson

    Obama for Pope!

    March 13, 2013 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  13. Ralph_in_FL

    Only way that would happen is if US Catholics split off into a separate denomination, like the Anglican Church.

    March 13, 2013 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  14. cheapseats2

    "Mr. President: How do you feel about the possibility of an American Pope?"
    "I told 'em we already got one."

    March 13, 2013 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  15. Fair is Fair

    vbscript2

    I think it's very unlikely that the pope will be American (at least not in the sense of from the U.S.) South or Central American is possible due to the large density of Catholics there, but the U.S. is a relatively non-Catholic nation.
    -----
    Point 1 – Joseph Ratzinger (Benedict XVI) was from Germany, a relatively non-Catholic nation.
    Point 2 – The selection for a Pope really does not take country of origin much into consideration, but rather the orthodoxy and leadership abilitiy of the individual. Of course, the ability to speak multiple languages, especially Italian, doesn't hurt.

    March 13, 2013 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  16. Beer Nutzz

    Obama thinks it should be Him! I think He should get the job, just like the Nobel Peace Prize that He was awarded !!
    Haha.......

    March 13, 2013 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  17. Sly

    The Pope's responsibility is to direct the world-wide molestation of little boys, and we've all read hundreds of stories proving American relgious leaders can molest little boys with the best of them.

    Once the Cardinalis finish 'sizing up' and measuring the new Pope, I'm sure they'll pick the best tool for the job.

    March 13, 2013 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  18. Anne

    as effectively as the current American president

    March 13, 2013 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  19. Pete

    Obama needs to take care of his house and stay out of the house of God....

    March 13, 2013 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  20. sonny chapman

    The main problem with Organized Christian Faith. In fact, all Organized Religion, consisting of human beings, have lost the central theme of their Faith. Centuries of wealth gathering & protection & Purity of Doctrine has taken its toll big time. By the way, Obama's summation of the Christian Faith & his references to the Four Gospels is dead on. He gets the message of Jesus Christ as found in those Four Gospels. The hard part for Obama & all who try to follow that message in our everyday lives is that it's really hard, given our combo divinity/humanity.

    March 13, 2013 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  21. Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair wrote:

    Point 1 – Joseph Ratzinger (Benedict XVI) was from Germany, a relatively non-Catholic nation.
    Point 2 – The selection for a Pope really does not take country of origin much into consideration, but rather the orthodoxy and leadership abilitiy of the individual. Of course, the ability to speak multiple languages, especially Italian, doesn't hurt.
    ---------------------
    I'm not sure if you spelled "Italian" correctly. Shouldn't that be "Latin"?

    March 13, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  22. skokie

    American Pope!!! Signs of the time

    March 13, 2013 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  23. JS

    To some comments there, Obama was asked a question and he answered it like a true politician. What he suppose to say that American pope would be no good ???

    March 13, 2013 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  24. critical thinking

    Glad to hear that Mr. President. Now if it's not too much trouble could you focus 5 mins on all of the problems that you have been avoiding these past 4 years. Thanks a bunch.

    March 13, 2013 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  25. Cepheus

    Tell you what! It doesn't matter where the next Pope comes from, what matter is that will he be a man of integrity, a man who can grow the body of Christ without fear or favor. We need someone who can thoroughly cleanse the house of God to its original objective "saving lives" from Hell for sure we can kick the devil down the sewer!

    March 13, 2013 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
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