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The most senior American in the Vatican has hit out at President Barack Obama on the eve of his visit to Pope Francis, charging that he "appears to be a totally secularised man who aggressively promotes anti-life and anti-family policies".
Mr Obama is to meet Pope Francis at the Vatican tomorrow.
Speaking to the Catholic channel EWTN, Cardinal Raymond Burke, Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, said Mr Obama’s policies “have become progressively more hostile toward Christian civilisation” and that the Catholic Church has become too “timid regarding its solemn duty to defend the truth in the public forum”.
The White House did not comment before the meeting on any specific issues to be discussed, but most observers expected a focus on areas of convergence in foreign affairs. Ahead of the meeting the president of the US bishops’ conference, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, issued a statement praising Secretary of State John Kerry for his efforts to bring about peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.
With Pope Francis going to the Holy Land in May, the ongoing peace efforts were expected be a priority topic for the President and the Pope. Religious persecution in Central Africa and Syria were also likely topics of discussion.
Because Pope Francis has made concern for the poor a central focus of his ministry and because the United States has the economic power to influence developing markets throughout the world, income inequality was also a likely agenda item.