President Obama tells cnbc's John Harwood that he's "hugely impressed" with Pope Francis's "incredible" humility and empathy.
POTUS digs the pontiff.
President Barack Obama said Wednesday that he is "hugely impressed" with Pope Francis' humble style.
In an interview with CNBC, Obama was asked what he thought about the Roman Catholic leader's recent comments that the church has become too focused on issues like gay rights and abortions.
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Pope Francis, seen here in St. Peter's Square, gets high marks from President Obama.
"I tell you, I have been hugely impressed with the pope's pronouncements. Not because of any particular issue," said Obama, who is Protestant.
"First of all, he seems somebody who lives out the teachings of Christ," he added. "Incredible humility, an incredible sense of empathy to the least of these, the poor.
"He's also someone who is first and foremost thinking about how to embrace people as opposed to push them away," Obama continued. "For any religious leader, that's a quality I admire."
Obama has not met Francis, who succeeded Pope Benedict XVI in March and has been praised for his down-to-earth, non-judgmental approach.
In an interview with an Italian newspaper this week, Benedict condemned a “Vatican-centric view” of the church and said its leaders have too often been narcissists, “flattered and sickeningly excited by their courtiers.”
An interview with Jesuit journals published two weeks ago quoted him as saying the church needed to find a "new balance" and branch out beyond the hot-button issues of abortion, contraception and homosexuality.
This story was originally published on Wed Oct 2, 2013 6:13 PM EDT