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President Obama and Pope Benedict XVI in 2009 / The White House

President Obama praised Pope Benedict XVI on Monday, just hours after the pontiff announced his resignation.

"On behalf of Americans everywhere, Michelle and I wish to extend our appreciation and prayers to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI," Obama said in a written statement.

The president said he "warmly" remembers the meeting he and the first lady had with Pope Benedict in 2009, "and I have appreciated our work together over these last four years."

During that 2009 meeting at the Vatican, Benedict referenced a disagreement over abortion rights, which the Catholic Church opposes and Obama supports.

The president "told the pope of his commitment to reduce the number of abortions and of his attention and respect for the positions of the Catholic Church," Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told reporters after he was briefed by the pope.

In his statement, Obama said, "The Church plays a critical role in the United States and the world, and I wish the best to those who will soon gather to choose His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI's successor."

The pope said his resignation becomes effective Feb. 28; the College of Cardinals is expected to name a successor in March.




Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

Read the original story: Obama praises Pope Benedict XVI

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