Why is the Secretary of Defense (Panetta) meeting with the Pope?Submitted by Ed Thinking on Wed, 01/16/2013 - 13:01
ROME — On what is probably his last trip as defense secretary, Leon E. Panetta had an audience on Wednesday morning at the Vatican with Pope Benedict XVI, who told him, Mr. Panetta said, “Thank you for helping to protect the world.” Mr. Panetta said he replied, “Pray for me.”
Mr. Panetta, the son of Italian immigrants who attends Mass every Sunday, is halfway through a weeklong trip to Europe meant as a goodbye tour of American allies. Later on Wednesday he is to meet with the Italian prime minister, Mario Monti, as well as the president of Italy, Giorgio Napolitano.
Mr. Panetta’s audience with the pope was far from private, although he had a close-up view. Mr. Panetta sat in the front row of the Pope Pius VI Audience Hall, where 7,000 others had gathered for the pope’s weekly audience. After an hourlong service, Mr. Panetta filed up with several dozen people, including a bride, to receive a blessing from the pope, who spoke to him at that time.
More from the NYT: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/17/world/europe/defense-secre...