Trump arrived at the Vatican just before 2:30 a.m. EDT, along with wife Melania, daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner to meet Pope Francis.
Even though pleasantries were exchanged, the atmosphere of the meeting was reportedly fraught. Pope Francis and Trump have very different views on issues such as immigration, climate change and arms sales. Despite both men determined not to let politics hinder their encounter, the underlying tensions were clear, reports said.
“The thing they have in common is a major responsibility to govern…The pope is an actor on the world stage and Trump is the president of a country with a huge impact on the world,” said Antonio Spadaro, a Jesuit priest who edits the Vatican-approved journal La Civiltà Cattolica, the New York Times reported.
The Pope welcomed Trump to the Vatican, Wednesday, indulging in handshakes before ushering the president into his study for their first face-to-face meeting, reports said.
The two exchanged gifts after the meeting. While the Pope gave Trump a signed copy of a message he delivered for World Peace Day, along with some of his writings about the need to protect the environment, Trump gave him a boxed set of writings by the civil rights leader Martin Luther King, theBBC reported.
The two leaders exchanged their views and covered the “promotion of peace in the world through political negotiation and interreligious dialogue” and highlighted the need to protect Christian communities in the Middle East.
The pope handed out rosaries to members of the delegation before the group posed for pictures following which the Pope bid farewell to the president and his wife.
After the meeting the Vatican released a statement saying the visit was “cordial” and that the two discussed “healthcare, education and assistance to immigrants.” The Vatican said they shared a commitment to “life, and freedom of worship and conscience” and expressed hope they can collaborate “in service to the people in the fields of healthcare, education and assistance to migrants”.
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