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. Msafiri Mageta

    this news is very impotant to the world

    March 13, 2013 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  2. Kaz

    What does the Muslim Obama care about the Christian world?? Other than its eradication, that is....

    March 13, 2013 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  3. marty

    Hey,nobody asked Newt, who also seems to have an opinion on everything. He is now the fair haired Catholic, married three times, granted a marriage annulment from his second wife by the Catholic Church, and is probably an expert on birth control considering his finger pointing activities during the impeachment fiasco of yesteryear. At least the President's opinion is a bit more credible.

    March 13, 2013 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  4. tk

    To all the posters who keep complaining that obama answered a question when directly asked...what would you rather he do, refuse to be interviewed? only allow a narrow range of topics? then you'd be screaming that he didnt' think about contemporary issues or that he was somehow censoring himself. geez. get over yourselves already. He was asked a question, he gave a perfectly anodyne answer to it.

    March 13, 2013 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  5. bostonguy

    I am sure the words of the Kenyan born Muslim socialist will be of great comfort to those still clinging to their guns and religion.

    March 13, 2013 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  6. Rob

    Obama tries to control religious freedom with his liberal policies, but that is what liberalism is all about, control.

    March 13, 2013 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  7. Romney is Still NOT My Hero

    American Pope – sounds like a name from the Mafia. That's the only kind of Pope we'll ever have.

    March 13, 2013 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  8. JJ

    Obama has a job already. He CAN NOT be the Pope too.

    March 13, 2013 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  9. dd

    An American Pope would declare Obama the Great Satan for killing millions of babies and tell the people of the world that Obama should be held by the Hague for crimes against humanity and the slaughter of innocent children.

    March 13, 2013 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  10. SOUTHERN HOTTIE

    Religion is the root of all evil.

    March 13, 2013 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  11. Conservastive Bill

    What ever happened to separation of church and state. President Obama has no right , no privilege to say who he wants to be pope. He doesn't need to put his two cents in. And I believe an American isn't in the front running, if you can call it that. I don't care if he was asked. He should have graciously declined to answer. Instead, like usual, he made another comment.
    And to Joep22, you are right. The Roman Catholic church isn't 100% rooted in the bible. But neither is many religions. In the bible it doesn't say you have to be old enough to understand to be baptized or that only members of a specific religion can go to heaven.
    And the bible does say that we should remember solemnly his death and that the Eucharist is his body and blood. "Take this bread and eat of it. This is my body which will be given up to you... Take this cup and drink of it. This is the cup of my blood; the blood of the new and everlasting covenant. DO THIS IN MEMORY OF ME."
    And we do not worship saints. We believe they are in heaven. Therefore they are with God. Therefore they can talk to God on behalf of us. I'm not trying to offend anyone, but where does the Bible say Jesus is the only "intermediary between man and the Father." Now I'm not a Biblry scholar, but I don't remember that. Please let me know a verse.
    And finally, the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary saying, "Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you." That's an awfully nice greeting for an average human.
    Please let me know of these verse. I'm intrigued by your questions.

    March 13, 2013 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  12. NOSALE

    The loony right is a modern marvel to say the least. When reading the comments they post, you get the feeling that they were very disappointed during childhood, and apparently very delusional with the material presented during school. There's always an impression that regardless of situation, the situation could have been improved only if they're point of view was considered and no one else's input was presented. Complete darkness is not easily achieved, though it seems very common in a mind that's closed or limited.

    March 13, 2013 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  13. Fair is Fair

    Anyone who wants an American Pope better hope that Obama doesn't lobby for one... it will go the way of the Chicago olympics.

    March 13, 2013 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  14. Woman In California

    Let them decide for themselves and just support whatever decision they make and move on.

    Joy to the world.

    March 13, 2013 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  15. just sayin

    SOUTHERN HOTTIE
    Religion is the root of all evil.
    --

    how ironic this is spoken by an abortion supporter.
    lack of morales is the root of all evil.

    March 13, 2013 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  16. Tommy G

    JJ
    Obama has a job already. He CAN NOT be the Pope too.
    -–

    He has no interest. Popes don't golf and hang out with Hollywood celebrities and those are Obama's number 1 & 2 priorities.

    March 13, 2013 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  17. Altreg01

    Last thing we need is an American pope trying to force religious absurdity upon us

    March 13, 2013 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  18. truehoosier62

    This is the second article that has tried to humanize the the selection of the next Pope. The other article spoke in terms of "winning" the assignment. This one borders on recommending that diversity or nationality play a part in the process. The process is not about gaining points, winning a campaign, or providing everyone with a Pope that will make changes to their faith, thus making the church appear to be "hip". It is about prayer, asking for devine guidance, and being receptive and intuitive to God's will. It's not about appeasing those who were abused by wayward Priests, or those who felt that women should be ordained as Priests, or those who feel that condoms and abortion should be allowed. I'm hopeful that whomever they are lead to select, that person ultimately reflects the true love of Christ to an unbelieving and cynical world.

    March 13, 2013 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  19. YBM

    Liberalism is the root of all evil.

    March 13, 2013 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  20. Lindsey

    Obama is not Catholic so I'm sure it doesn't mean much to him. However, it would be interesting to see him sit down with an American Pope and try to explain why he supports abortion on demand.

    March 13, 2013 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  21. dick

    He's a hypocrite. He and the Democrats are attacking churches with their legislation. Lots of lawsuits against his administration and their anti religious attitude.
    "Last thing we need is an American President tying to force secularism upon us"! He and his party can "stuff it" mate!

    March 13, 2013 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  22. President Obama For Sale: $500,000 or Best Offer (CASH preferred)

    Lindsey
    Obama is not Catholic so I'm sure it doesn't mean much to him. However, it would be interesting to see him sit down with an American Pope and try to explain why he supports abortion on demand.
    ---–
    Easily answered. Single women voters. They are more interested in staying single and unencumbered than in the life of their baby.

    March 13, 2013 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  23. joan

    Birthers still alive and well, I see. Obama was born in Hawaii. He was asked a question and he answered. He isn't muslim, but who cares if he was. There used to be such a horror over having a catholic president and the nation survived that.

    March 13, 2013 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  24. joan

    ' However, it would be interesting to see him sit down with an American Pope and try to explain why he supports abortion on demand."
    BECAUSE women have rights to their bodies, no matter what. why should a fetus or a zygot have more rights than a woman just because she is pregnant?

    March 13, 2013 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  25. sonny chapman

    How many self proclaimed "Christians" do not see the Message of the Four Gospels in what Obama just said ? Like in the days of Jesus, when the Pharisees missed it too, John 8,19.

    March 13, 2013 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
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