On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate His Holiness Pope Francis on the second anniversary of his election to the See of Rome.
I have had the honor of visiting Vatican City three times while serving as Secretary of State, where I marveled at Michelangelo’s Pieta in St. Peter’s Basilica and his frescoes on the walls of the Sistine Chapel. Looking up at those holy places, I was reminded of how my own faith has been a source of strength and comfort every day. Growing up, I served as an altar boy. As a Navy officer in Vietnam, I prayed at night and read passages from my Bible. And as Secretary of State, I have had the privilege of working closely with the Vatican in areas of common interests to our nation and to the Holy See.
The relationship between the United States and the Holy See is defined by our commitment to helping others and building a more peaceful, just, and humane world. I commend His Holiness for his dedication to the ideals set forward by his namesake, Saint Francis of Assisi. The Holy Father’s work to address the concerns of the poor and marginalized has provided a powerful example for others to follow. And I particularly look forward to welcoming him on his first papal visit to the United States this fall.
The United States and the Holy See are united in our goals of protecting human rights and religious freedom around the world, countering violent extremism, combating human trafficking and poverty, and addressing global climate change.
Today, I join millions of Americans in offering congratulations to the Holy Father as he continues to lead the Holy See and Catholics around the world into a new and hopeful era.