Trump, Pope fo­cus on mes­sage of peace


VATICAN CITY — Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and Pope Fran­cis, two lead­ers with con­trast­ing styles and dif­fer­ing world views, met at the Vatican on Wed­nes­day, set­ting aside their pre­vi­ous clashes to broad­cast a tone of peace for an au­di­ence around the globe.

Trump, mid­way through a gru­elling nine­day, maiden in­ter­na­tional jour­ney, called upon the pon­tiff in a pri­vate, 30-minute meet­ing laden with re­li­gious sym­bol­ism and an­cient pro­to­col.

Nei­ther man, un­ques­tion­ably two of the most fa­mous in the world, re­peated their prior crit­i­cism of the other. The state­ments re­leased af­ter­ward were de­lib­er­ately vague and con­tained only hints of ar­eas of dis­agree­ment. Trump smiled broadly, the Pope smiled less, but both agreed, at least for a day, to set­tle on the same mes­sage: the need to avoid conflict.

That theme was re­flected in their words and their gifts.

The Pope, upon com­plet­ing their meet­ing, gave the pres­i­dent a medal fea­tur­ing an olive branch.

“We can use peace,” said the pres­i­dent, con­cur­ring with the sym­bol­ism.

Fran­cis also gave a mes­sage of peace and three bound pa­pal doc­u­ments that to some de­gree de­fine his pa­pacy and pri­or­i­ties, in­clud­ing the fam­ily and the en­vi­ron­ment.

The Pope told Trump he signed the mes­sage “per­son­ally for you.” Trump said he would read the books.

In ex­change, Trump pre­sented the pon­tiff with a cus­tom-bound, first-edi­tion set of Martin Luther King Jr.’s works, an en­graved stone from the King memo­rial in Wash­ing­ton and a bronze sculp­ture of a flow­er­ing lo­tus ti­tled “Ris­ing Above.”

“I think you’ll en­joy them. I hope you do,” Trump said.

When Trump departed, he told the Pope: “Thank you, I won’t for­get what you said.”

The visit be­gan with a hand­shake af­ter each man ar­rived, Trump in a lengthy mo­tor­cade, Fran­cis in a Ford Fo­cus. The pres­i­dent was heard thank­ing the Pope and say­ing it was “a great hon­our” to be there. They posed for pho­to­graphs and then sat down at the pa­pal desk, the Pope un­smil­ing, as their pri­vate meet­ing be­gan.

It ended a half-hour later when Fran­cis rang the bell in his pri­vate study. Trump tweeted later that the meet­ing was the “hon­our of a life­time.” A state­ment from the Vatican later said “sat­is­fac­tion was ex­pressed” at their “joint com­mit­ment in favour of life” and that there was hoped-for col­lab­o­ra­tion on health care, as­sis­tance to im­mi­grants and pro­tec­tion of Chris­tian com­mu­ni­ties in the Mid­dle East.

U.S. Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son said Trump and the Pope talked ex­ten­sively about ex­treme ter­ror­ist threats and ex­trem­ism, and the rad­i­cal­iza­tion of young peo­ple. Tiller­son said cli­mate change and mi­gra­tion is­sues came up in Trump’s meet­ing with the car­di­nal sec­re­tary of state.


First lady Me­la­nia Trump, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and Pope Fran­cis ex­change gifts at the Vatican Wed­nes­day. The pres­i­dent and the Pope met pri­vately for 30 min­utes.

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