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President Obama, Consider This When You Meet Pope Francis

March 27, 2014

When President Obama visits Pope Francis Thursday at the Vatican, he will find an open letter in the International New York Times from Catholics for Choice calling for the president to heed these words of wisdom from John F. Kennedy:

“I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute, where no Catholic prelate would tell the president … how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote; where no church … is granted any … political preference….

“I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish; where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source; where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials….” 

– John F. Kennedy

Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice, said, “It’s important that President Obama remember that Pope Francis is a spiritual leader for Catholics, not our political leader.

“The majority of Catholics believe Pope Francis is leading our church in a positive direction, but the Vatican’s draconian rules on sex and sexuality, reproductive health and family life still do not reflect the real lives of lay Catholics. Fully 99 percent of sexually active Catholic women in the United States use a contraceptive method banned by the Vatican.

“As the Catholic hierarchy continues to be a powerful lobby the world over, often seeking to impose its ultraconservative views on the entire population—Catholic and non-Catholic alike—we ask President Obama to heed the words of JFK and remember: religious arguments should not trump policy.”

View the open letter in the International New York Times.