President Obama hosted a roundtable with members of the Catholic media at the White House Thursday in an apparent attempt to reach out to Catholics ahead of his meeting with Pope Benedict XVI later this month.

Obama will meet with the pope while he is in Italy for the annual G8 summit, which takes place in L'Aquila July 8-10.

Obama began Thursday's meeting with brief remarks and allowed each reporter to ask one question, according to those in attendance.

The Rev. Owen Kearns of the National Catholic Register was invited to meet with Obama to talk about the upcoming trip to Rome and the Holy See. Kearns filed a report on his Web site 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 the pope about the Middle East, climate change and immigration.

But other likely topics of discussion between the leaders could be the president's support for abortion rights and embryonic stem cell research, which puts him at odds with the Roman Catholic Church's teachings.

Because of his position on those issues, Obama upset many Catholics when he gave the commencement speech at Notre Dame University earlier this year. 

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