President Obama invited several members of the Catholic press to a conversation at the White House July 2 in preparation for his upcoming visit to Benedict XVI. The Register was represented by yours truly.

More details can be found on our blog at NCRegister.com and in the next print edition of the Register.

The 45-minute conversation veered from the papal meeting, and I asked the president about an advisor to the White House Office for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships who had made disparaging remarks about the Pope and the Knights of Columbus. This kind of behavior seemed to contradict the spirit of what Obama said during his speech in Cairo to the Muslim world June 4: “We can’t disguise hostility towards any religion behind the pretense of liberalism.”

The president told me that his administration can’t be accused of sympathizing with everyone involved in its projects, but he’s confident that more good will come of the debate than the heat generated by some participants.

Obama also revealed that he supports conscience rights for physicians and others in health care. He promised that whatever policy comes out of the current review will not be weaker than the previous policy.

The Register will be watching that thanks to you readers and donors who make it possible for us to be where news is being made.

God bless.