-- President Obama has found an ally in Pope Francis on some of the most important political issues of his presidency, but there are also areas where the leaders of the United States and the Catholic Church will likely never see eye to eye.
The White House says the president and the pope’s meeting in the Oval Office Wednesday won’t focus on politics, but instead will be about their shared values.
“I would not expect a robust discussion of a political agenda, but rather, I think it's an opportunity for the two men to talk about the values that they have in common, and there are many,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said.
“I'm confident that there are areas where they may not see things the same way,” Earnest added. ”The president, even if he doesn't agree with him in every respect…certainly does hold the pope and his views in high regard.”
Here’s a look at a few issues where the president and Pope Francis align and other areas where they are at odds in their beliefs.
THEY AGREE ON CLIMATE CHANGE In June, Pope Francis released an encyclical which urged the world to take action on climate change, which he said is mostly man-made.
“Climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods,” he wrote. “It represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day.”
The president praised the pope’s encyclical, saying he “deeply” admired “the Pope’s decision to make the case – clearly, powerfully, and with the full moral authority of his position – for action on global climate change.”
THEY DISAGREE ON SAME-SEX MARRIAGE That same month, President Obama hailed the Supreme Court’s ruling that legalized same-sex marriage, calling it a “victory for America.”
While this was a significant change in the U.S., Pope Francis and the Catholic Church still disapprove of marriage between same-sex couples. But Pope Francis has also struck a more accepting tone on homosexuality than his predecessors.
“If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” the pope said in 2013.
THEY AGREE ON CUBA Pope Francis and President Obama are on the same page when it comes to Cuba. In fact, Pope Francis was the most important player in the White House’s efforts to normalize relations between the U.S. and Cuba.
In 2014, the pope wrote secret letters urging President Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro to restore ties between their two countries and advocated for the release of Alan Gross, the U.S. citizen held in Cuba for five years until his release in 2014.
“I want to thank His Holiness Pope Francis, whose moral example shows us the importance of pursuing the world as it should be, rather than simply settling for the world as it is,” President Obama said last year as he announced the U.S. and Cuba would normalize relations.
THEY DISAGREE ON ABORTION President Obama and Pope Francis will likely never see eye to eye when it comes to abortion. The president has adamantly advocated for a woman’s right to choose, saying he’s “deeply committed to protecting this core constitutional right.”
Pope Francis and the Catholic Church oppose abortion, saying it is important to protect the sanctity of life and the unborn. But earlier this month, Pope Francis said all priests are able to absolve women seeking forgiveness for the “sin of abortion” if they have a “contrite heart.”