Trump told the Pope: "Thank you, thank you. I won't forget what you said.”
On Wednesday, Pope Francis and President Donald Trump met face-to-face at the Vatican. After welcoming the U.S. President at an “unusually early time,” the leaders with starkly different viewpoints proceeded to talk for about thirty minutes.
The meeting has been highly anticipated, as the pair’s relationship in the past has been tense. Not only does the U.S. Catholic Church hierarchy oppose Trump’s attempt to cut federal assistance for cities that offer sanctuary to illegal immigrants, last year, the Pope commented that Trump’s attempt to build a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico is “not Christian.”
After hearing of the criticism, President Trump replied that it was “disgraceful” the Argentine-born Catholic leader, who represents slightly over half of the world’s two billion Christians, question his faith. Additionally, Pope Francis has expressed concern for the environment and has urged political leaders to invest in green initiatives, whereas business mogul-turned-President Trump believes climate change is a “hoax” invented by the Chinese.
Despite their differences, the meeting apparently went very well for both. Afterward, Pope Francis gave President Trump a small sculptured olive tree then told him through an interpreter, “It is my desire that you become an olive tree to construct peace.”
Trump responded, “We can use peace.”
Francis also gave Trump a signed copy of his 2017 peace message, entitled “Nonviolence – A style of Politics for Peace,” in addition to a copy of his 2015 encyclical letter on the necessity to protect the environment to prevent climate change from worsening. “Well, I’ll be reading them,” Trump said. Rosaries from the Vatican were also gifted to the visiting group.
The U.S. President gave Pope Francis a boxed set of five first-edition books by Martin Luther King, a murdered U.S. civil rights leader, and before exiting told the religious leader: “Thank you, thank you. I won’t forget what you said.”
When Trump was asked how the meeting went, he said, “Great. He is something. He is really good. We had a fantastic meeting.” A representative for the Vatican matched the sentiment, saying the meeting was “cordial” and that Francis hopes there will be a “serene collaboration” between the U.S. government and the Catholic Church in America.