The White House has been keeping details of the pope's visit under wraps, but last week a few officials from the president's and First Lady's staff briefed reporters on some of lighter touches of their pontiff-planning.
The Holy See has played an active global role for centuries. It has permanent observer status at the United Nations and has all the rights of full UN membership except voting.
Read more of Kim Lawton's interview about Pope Benedict, the Vatican, and foreign policy with Father Thomas Reese, S.J., senior fellow at Georgetown University's Woodstock Institute.
Read more of Kim Lawton's interview about the Vatican and foreign policy with J. Peter Pham, director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs at James Madison University.
Read more of Kim Lawton's interview about the Vatican and foreign policy with Ambassador James Nicholson.