"The Vatican has framed this trip as an attempt to bridge the gap between the haves and have-nots in the Americas," says TIME religion correspondent David Van Biema. And President Clinton will find that the legendary crusader against communism has some harsh words for capitalism too. In his Ecclesia in America exhortation signed at the weekend, the pope denounced "unbridled consumerism" and a "system (that) considers profits and the law of the market as its only parameters." But to a U.S. President who considers the humming economy his greatest achievement, curbing consumerism will hardly seem like a good idea.
Pope John Paul II wants more than Bill Clinton's confession: He's more likely to use his brief private meeting with President Clinton Tuesday to press the U.S. on issues ranging from the bombing of Iraq to the embargo against Cuba -- both of which the pontiff opposes -- and to press for measures such as debt relief for developing nations. Speaking on arrival for a one-day visit to St. Louis, the pope spoke out against abortion and the death penalty and urged Americans to "open (their) hearts to those less fortunate."