Pope Francis and President Obama met for the first time on Thursday at the Vatican, and greeted each other with smiles and a handshake. The two are expected to discuss shared priorities such as poverty, conflict, and religious freedom. The president is also expected to invite Pope Francis for his first visit to the U.S. next year as pontiff. However, the visit was preceded by a story on Vatican Radio, the Holy See's official mouthpiece, which said the visit was taking place amid “a complex phase” of the relationship between the Vatican and the United States, marked by “controversy on the implementation of health-care reform having to do with the rules on mandatory health-care coverage of sterilization, contraception, and abortion; and on other issues at the center of the public debate in the United States, such as the legalization of homosexual marriages." Every U.S. president has met with the reigning pope since 1959.
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