In an interview that aired this morning, President Obama was asked whether he'd have too much influence over an American pope. He didn't answer the question, but he did say he hopes the next pope carries the "central message of the Gospel":
"While we're here," said the interviewer from ABC News, "a lot of eyes on Rome as the cardinals prepare to pick a new pope. And for the first time some American cardinals on the list. But what I wanted to ask you about, there seems to be some concern among Catholics there shouldn't be an American pope because that pope would be too tied to the United States government. What do think of that?"
"It seems to me that an American pope would preside just as effectively as a Polish pope or an Italian pope or a Guatemalan pope," responded the president of the United States.
The ABC newsreader asked, "And not take orders from you?"
"I don't know if you have checked lately but the Conference of Catholic Bishops here in the United States don't seem to be taking orders from me," said Obama. "My hope is, based on what I know about the Catholic Church and the terrific work that they've done around the world and certainly in this country, you know, helping those who are less fortunate, is that you have a pope who sustains and maintains what I consider the central message of the Gospel that we treat everybody as children of God and that we love them the way Jesus Christ taught us to love them."