Pope Francis and President Trump meet: what you need to know

After Pope Francis’ historic meeting with President Donald J. Trump earlier today, several prominent church leaders and Vatican watchers took to Twitter to offer their own take on the highly anticipated visit.

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Several users are sharing side-by-side photos of Francis’ meeting with Mr. Trump and former President Barack Obama, implying that you can read the pontiff’s political or personal preference for U.S. leaders based on his smile. However, as America’s national correspondent, Michael J. O’Loughlin pointed out, we are not looking at the full picture (or all of them) when drawing these conclusions:

President Trump himself used Twitter to remark on his meeting with Pope Francis, noting that he left the meeting “more determined than ever to pursue PEACE in our world.”

Cardinal Peter K. Turkson, the archbishop of Cape Coast in Ghana, commented that both President Trump and Pope Francis offer ways to overcome religious violence.

How is the meeting being covered?

Cindy Wooden of Catholic News Service pointed out that the story on the meeting was below the fold in the Vatican’s newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.

Daniel Burke, who is religion editor at CNN, drew attention to pope’s decision to tweet about the importance of dialogue ahead of his meeting with Mr. Trump.

Joshua McElwee, the National Catholic Reporter's Vatican correspondent, noted that Monday's terror attack in Manchester, England, dominated Italian television coverage ahead of President Trump's visit.

What’s in a gift?

Pope Francis gave Mr. Trump three of his encyclicals, “Amoris Laetitia,” “Evangelii Gaudium,” and “Laudato Si’.” That last gift, the pope’s 2015 encyclical calling for care of creation and urgency on climate change, might seem like a dig, “gifted” to a president who has dismissed global warming as a hoax and whose administration has stepped back from the environmental commitments of his predecessor on climate change. But the truth is the pope pretty much gives all visiting heads of state copies of “Laudato” and other encyclicals he has authored.

Pope Francis presents a gift to U.S. President Donald Trump, accompanied by his wife, Melania, during a private audience at the Vatican May 24. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
Pope Francis presents a gift to U.S. President Donald Trump, accompanied by his wife, Melania, during a private audience at the Vatican May 24. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

But Pope Francis also gave Mr. Trump his 2017 World Day of Peace message, which contemplated the role of nonviolence in global peacebuilding, telling Mr. Trump, “I signed it personally for you.”

The president seemed impressed. “That’s so beautiful,” he told the pope.

Pope Francis also gave President Trump a large medallion depicting an olive branch as a symbol of peace.

The pope said, “I give this to you so that you can be an instrument of peace.”

The president replied, “We can use peace.”—a point the two men, despite differences on climate change and immigration and the importance of diplomacy, appeared to have no trouble agreeing on.

This story includes updates. 

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Beth Cioffoletti
6 months ago

I thought that it was very cool that Francis didn't miss his usual Wednesday audience with the people. Within an hour of the meeting with Trump, Francis was out riding around St. Peter's square, greeting regular folks.

It was a good meeting with Trump & family. I enjoyed watching every detail on the live stream.

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