(Photo: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)
U.S. President Barack Obama recently said in an interview that he is "hugely impressed" with the new Catholic Pope Francis, adding that he specifically admires the pope for his willingness to "embrace people as opposed to push them away."
"I tell you, I have been hugely impressed with the pope's pronouncements. Not because of any particular issue," the Commander-in-Chief told CNBC in a recent interview. Obama's comment was made in response to what he thought about the pope's recent suggestion that the church not become "obsessed" with certain issues, such as abortion or same-sex marriage.
"First of all, he seems somebody who lives out the teachings of Christ," Obama continued. "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, who has never met the pope, continued.
"For any religious leader, that's a quality I admire," the president added. Pope Francis, who was elected to the highest position in the Catholic Church back in March 2013, has made waves since taking the position for his comments regarding the church's approach to some issues - although it should be noted that in numerous instances the pope's comments have been inaccurately portrayed or misunderstood by many in the secular media.
The pontiff's most recent comments that gained widespread attention were made in an extensive interview with the Jesuit journal America. In the interview, Pope Francis said the Catholic Church has to "find a new balance" when focusing on important issues, and it cannot become "obsessed" with issues like abortion, contraception, or same-sex marriage.
"We have to find a new balance," he said in the interview. "Otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel […] The church's pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently."
Along with his headline-grabbing comments, the new pope has also become known as a concerned advocate for the poor and suffering. He has been photographed washing the feet of drug addicts and poor people, and has previously said that he would like "a poor church, for the poor."