Barack Obama, Pope Francis

*(Via theGrio) – As President Obama prepares to meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Thursday, can the pontiff’s popularity rub off on America’s commander-in-chief? This progressive pope could very well serve as an ally for Obama, albeit an unintentional one.

The two leaders do have some notable differences. For example, the Pope maintains the Catholic Church’s opposition to abortion, and the U.S. Conference of Bishops—a papal lobbying group of sorts—supports religious exemptions for the contraception mandate in Obamacare. Some private businesses do not want to pay for the birth control of their employees on the basis of religious beliefs, an issue which is under review by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Further, the Pope has not altered the Church’s position on marriage, which he sees as being a union between a man and a woman.

And yet, there are similarities. For one, both men are trailblazers. President Obama is America’s first black president, while Pope Francis is the first Latin American head of the Catholic Church.

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