In a sign the Obama administration is reaching out to Catholics in advance of the President's meeting with Pope Benedict XVI, President Obama hosted a media roundtable at the White House Thursday with members of the Catholic media.

 

 

According to those in attendance, Obama began the meeting with brief remarks and allowed each reporter to ask one question.

Father Owen Kearns of the National Catholic Register was invited to meet with the President on the pretext of talking about the upcoming trip to Rome and the Holy See. Kearns filed a report on his website saying the President had described a "wonderful" conversation with Pope Benedict XVI right after the November election. The President also went into some detail about his views of the Holy See, seeing it more as a government than just a religious state because of its powerful influence. Obama also said he's looking forward to talking to his Holiness about the Middle East, climate change and immigration.

Earlier this year, President Obama upset many Catholics when he gave the commencement speech at Notre Dame University, despite his pro-choice stance.

The roundtable was left off the White House schedule, but was confirmed to Fox News by a senior administration official. There were reporters from America, Avvenire/Vatican Radio, Catholic News Service, Catholic Digest, Commonweal, National Catholic Reporter and the Washington Post.