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Watch President Obama Meet Pope Francis for the First Time

Pope Francis (2ndR) and US President Barack Obama exchange gifts during a private audience on March 27, 2014 at the Vatican. The meeting at the Vatican comes as a welcome rest-stop for Obama during a six-day European tour dominated by the crisis over Crimea, and the US leader will doubtless be hoping some of the pope's overwhelming popularity will rub off on him.
Photo: Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images

President Barack Obama stopped at the Vatican on Thursday morning for a little chat and thousands of photos with Pope Francis, a fellow accused socialist and much-hyped agent of change. “It is a great honor. I’m a great admirer,” said Obama. “Thank you so much for receiving me.” Somehow they managed to exchange a few words — and gifts — between the onslaught of flashbulbs.

According to the White House, the pair planned to talk about “their shared commitment to fighting poverty and growing inequality,” not awkward stuff like abortion and contraception.

John Kerry got to come, too. Photo: GABRIEL BOUYS/2014 AFP

President Obama also sent regards from his family. “They’ve been very strong,” he said. “Pray for them. I would appreciate it.”

Matching big chairs. Photo: GABRIEL BOUYS/2014 AFP

Obama presented the pope with a “a custom-made seed chest featuring a variety of fruit and vegetable seeds used in the White House Garden,” for the papal summer residence. In return, he received a plaque and an encyclical, or papal letter.

“I actually will probably read this in the Oval Office when I’m deeply frustrated,” said the president. “I’m sure it will give me strength and calm me down.”

The close-up. Photo: GABRIEL BOUYS/2014 AFP
Watch President Obama Meet Pope Francis