U.S. President Barack Obama will make his second visit to the Vatican on Thursday. He will meet for the first time with Pope Francis. The two are greatly expected to focus on the things they share in common, rather than their differences.
With a population of more than 316 million, the United States is not only one of most populous countries, but also one with the most Catholics.
More than three quarters of Americans consider themselves to be Christians, with the Protestant denominations making up half of the entire population. Meanwhile a quarter, or nearly 68 million people, identify as Catholic. As such, the Catholic Church is the largest single Church in the country.
Barack Obama is the 44th president. He was first elected in 2008, and sworn in on January 20, 2009. Voters re-elected him in November 2012.
Obama's administration has been at odds with the local Catholic Church in a number of topics, namely health care reform, and social issues like abortion and gay marriage. But during this meeting, it's expected he and Pope Francis will touch on the issues they share in common.
High among that list is economic inequality. Both leaders have championed a more equal distribution of wealth, and assistance for the poor. Other topics on the agenda are also expected to include the Middle East peace process, especially given the Pope's upcoming visit in May. But other international conflicts like Syria and Ukraine could arise.
On a local level, the Pope could also bring up immigration reform, a topic local bishops have pushed for considerably. It also reflects the reality of the Church in the U.S., which is made up more and more of immigrants and their children.