Tomorrow morning at 10:45 Eastern time the president is hosting a roundtable at the White House for members of the Catholic press.
The National Catholic Register’s publisher, Father Owen Kearns, will be among eight religion reporters and editors in attendance at that gathering.
The purpose of the gathering, according to Chris Hensman, press secretary with the National Security Council, is a “preview of the president’s upcoming visit with Pope Benedict XVI.” The president is meeting with the Pope on July 10.
Father Kearns just received the invitation to the meeting yesterday via e-mail. At this point, there isn’t a complete list of the media who will be in attendance, but our understanding is that it’s strictly Catholic print media, not radio or television.
According to Father Kearns, the meeting is unprecedented. He has not previously met a sitting U.S. president, nor has he been previously invited by the president to a White House gathering for members of the Catholic press.
When Father Kearns asked the purpose of the roundtable, he was told, “It’s for the president to inform us, to listen to concerns, and to answer questions.”
The meeting is not a press conference.
“It sounds like what we would call a listening session,” said Father Kearns.
We’ll have an update about the meeting on the blog tomorrow.