Obama calls pope 'soulful messenger' of peace, justice

WASHINGTON Fri Dec 6, 2013 7:02am IST

Pope Francis attends during his weekly general audience at St. Peter's Square at the Vatican December 4, 2013. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

Pope Francis attends during his weekly general audience at St. Peter's Square at the Vatican December 4, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Alessandro Bianchi

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama likes what he sees from Pope Francis, who has called for a more humble Catholic Church that sides with the poor.

Obama offered praise to the new pontiff in an interview with MSNBC's "Hardball" on Thursday, saying Francis has used the power of his office to remind people of their obligations to others and future generations.

"I think Pope Francis is showing himself to be just an extraordinarily thoughtful, and soulful, messenger of peace and justice," Obama said.

Obama has not yet met the pope, but he said "everything that I've read, everything that I've seen from him indicates the degree to which he is trying to remind us of those core obligations."

Last week in Buenos Aires, the pope took on the issue of high youth unemployment, saying in a TN television interview that today people are living in an unjust international system in which "King Money" is at the center.

Obama sounds a similar message. This week he complained of income inequality in the United States and said the need to improve the plight of middle-class Americans is "what drives me as a grandson, a son, a father - as an American."

(Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

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