Trump says he had 'fantastic meeting' with pope

Pope Francis exchanges gifts with U.S. President Donald Trump, accompanied by his wife, Melania, during a private audience at the Vatican May 24.

In the past year, the two men have swapped jibes and debated on subjects ranging from migration to unbridled capitalism, as well as the environment. Prior to this jaunt overseas, a source said she briefed staff members on how to pack for the President's foreign travels.

It had the potential of a being a very awkward meeting between two world leaders whose views couldn't be more different on several issues.

Trump told his host as he left: "Thank you".

"I'd say, 'ISIS wants to get you, '" Trump told CNN.

"I give it to you so you can be an instrument of peace", he said in Spanish.

The president responded, "We can use peace". He entered a small elevator taking him to the third floor of the Apostolic Palace and, after a long ceremonial walk past frescoed corridors, shook the pope's hand at the entrance to the private study that the frugal pontiff uses only for official occasions.

Behind them were Mrs. Trump, wearing a black dress and with her hair covered by a veil, and Ivanka Trump, the president's daughter and adviser, also wearing a veil over her hair and in a black dress with lace hem and pearls.

The two exchanged gifts, with Trump presenting the Pope with a series of books by Martin Luther King Jr., an engraved stone from the King memorial and a lotus sculpture. Trump, who is Presbyterian, previously said it was "disgraceful" for the pope to question his faith.

Thanking the pope for the documents, the president said, "Well, I'll be reading them".

In the past year, the two men have swapped jibes and debated on subjects ranging from migration to unbridled capitalism, as well as the environment.

A Vatican statement highlighted "the joint commitment in favor of life, and freedom of worship and conscience". Mrs. Trump is Catholic. The encounter between the pope and Trump took place in the library of the papal apartment early on Wednesday and lasted about half an hour.

The president then called on Italy's president and met briefly with Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni.

Meanwhile, Trump looked on as his wife and the pope laughed at the joke about his weight. She ended the visit by praying in the hospital chapel. He is scheduled to attend a G7 meeting in Sicily, Italy, after he meets the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and European Union leadership in Belgium.

President Donald Trump has arrived at the Vatican to meet with Pope Francis.

But there have also been conciliatory moves. Pope Francis quoted King in his 2015 address to U.S. Congress.

And while there are some naysayers who suggest it was hypocritical for the Trump women to defer to the Pope but declined donning a headscarf in Saudi Arabia, it's illuminating to remember this was also the choice Obama made. This could be because she is believed to be a Roman Catholic, as suggested by her request for Pope Francis to bless her Rosary beads during the visit.

  • Zachary Reyes