WASHINGTON, October 3, 2013 ( – CNBC/New York Times asked US President Barack Obama yesterday about Pope Francis’ recent statements regarding abortion and gay rights.

“Pope Francis said the other day that the Catholic Church, without changing the Church's positions, he said, it had become too obsessed on issues like gay rights and abortion. What did you think of the Pope's remarks and do you see any broader applicability beyond the Catholic Church?” he was asked.  Obama responded: “I tell ya, I have been hugely impressed with the Pope’s pronouncements.”

Obama continued: “not because of any particular issue but first of all he seems somebody who lives out the teachings of Christ.”

“He's also somebody who's, I think, first and foremost, thinking about how to embrace people as opposed to push them away, how to find what's good in them as opposed to condemn them,” said Obama.

The president described the pope as having, “incredible humility, an incredible sense of empathy to the least of these, to the poor.”

“And that spirit, that sense of love and unity seems to manifest itself in not just what he says, but what he does,” said Obama, concluding that it is a quality he admires in any leader, religious or otherwise.

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