Stephen Farnsworth, a political science professor at the University of Mary Washington, said that in some ways, attacks on Obama’s religious beliefs (critics have falsely claimed he is a Muslim to undermine his political support) have given the president more room to maneuver with the pope.
The president, while not Catholic, has had many Catholic influences in his life, including during his days in Chicago as a community organizer. Like Obama, Francis has a history of reaching out to the poor and the underserved.
“The argument that so many have made that Obama is not connected enough to Western values doesn’t really square with a partnership between a pope and president,” Farnsworth said. “Obama can go a long ways in working with the pope before he’s going to run into much trouble.
“We’re talking about two community organizers who have a great deal in common. They just happen to be at the moment pope and president.”