Pope meets Trump, asks him to be peacemaker

Melania met with Pope Francis after arriving in Italy on Tuesday with her husband, President Donald Trump.

The president and the pope have something of a complicated past.

Mr Trump and the Pope have expressed opposing views on issues such as immigration and climate change and the two men exchanged sharp words during the presidential campaign a year ago.

Seated across from each other at a simple wooden desk in the pope's private study, Trump and the pontiff spoke for 30 minutes, along with an interpreter.

The pope had presented Trump with a medallion engraved with an olive tree, the worldwide symbol of peace.

The Pope gave Trump a medallion by a Roman artist depicting an olive tree, a symbol of peace.

Francis and Trump's sparred through the media during the presidential election campaign but the United States leader had previously expressed his admiration for the pontiff.

"At the end of the audience, the pope gave Trump copies of his writings", NPR's Sylvia Poggioli reports from Rome, "including his encyclical on climate change - a topic on which Trump has a very different opinion".

"A person who only thinks about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian", the pope said at the time.

The pope also presented Trump with three books that he said he sends to all Catholics: one on family, one on the Gospels and one on "care of our common home, the environment". Smiling broadly, Trump was heard to say "thank you so much", before commenting, "it is such an honour to be here". Mr Juncker said at the time: "If that continues, I'll call for OH to be independent and Texas to leave the United States".

But the pope and his aides, in subsequent diplomatic talks, appeared to press Trump and the USA delegation on health care, education and immigration, areas where the Catholic Church holds views that are in stark contrast to those pushed by Trump. "Women who have an audience with the Pope are required to wear long sleeves, formal black clothing, and a veil to cover the head", Stephanie Grisham, the first lady's communications director, told CNN.

Francis and Trump's past spats include the pope describing plans for a border wall with Mexico as not Christian and Trump evoking a possible militant attack on the Vatican which would make the pontiff glad to have him as president.

More potentially awkward meetings await the President on the next leg of his trip to Belgium where he is attending a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit, meeting the leaders of the European Union as well as the King, Queen and Prime Minister of Belgium.

The Pope was then introduced to the U.S. president's entourage, which included: the First Lady; his eldest daughter, Ivanka; his son-in-law, Jared Kushner; Secretary of State Rex Tillerson; National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster and presidential spokeswoman Hope Hicks.

Trump also presented the pope with a small piece of granite from the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial in Washington, D.C., and a bronze sculpture titled Rising Above, by the American sculptor Geoffrey Smith, representing "hope for a peaceful tomorrow", according to the White House.

After the meeting, Trump met with Italy's Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni - a session that pool reporters were allowed to visit.

Trump's visit to the the Vatican is part of a nine-day foreign tour, which has already seen him deliver speeches in Saudi Arabia and Jerusalem. It said Trump and Francis covered topics including health care, education, migration, global affairs, and interreligious dialogue.

"I think you'll enjoy them".

  • Leroy Wright