President Trump and the Pope put aside past differences and banter for their first official meeting earlier today, focusing on talks of peace and non-violence in their agendas as two of the world’s most prominent leaders.
Trump was accompanied by Melania Trump, Ivanka Trump, Rex Tillerson, and the rest of the U.S. delegation as he walked to his meeting with the Pope. The Pope first greeted Trump in Sala del Tronetto, located on the second floor of the Apostolic Palace at 8:30 am in the morning. They shook hands and Trump expressed his appreciation to the Pope for the meeting.
For the brief few minutes that the press pool was allowed into the study to observe the Pope and Trump’s meeting, they saw that the Pope and Trump were seated across from each other at the Pope’s desk, but that the Pope did not say anything and merely looked at the press pool until they were ushered out. Trump did tell the Pope that it was “a very great honor” to meet with him.
As Trump and the Pope shook hands to conclude the meeting, Trump said to the Pope: “Thank you. Thank you. I won’t forget what you said.”
The Pope and POTUS exchanged gifts shortly after the Pope greeted the rest of the U.S. delegation. An interesting side note is that both Melania and Ivanka Trump, who were present, were wearing a veil to cover their hair, out of respect for the religious leader. Some have criticized their decision to respect religious tradition at The Vatican but not when visiting religious states in the Middle East (like Saudi Arabia).
Trump’s gift to his papacy was a multitude of objects and memorabilia pertaining to the theme of hope and peace. The first was a first-edition set of Dr. Martin Luther King’s writings, “which highlight his powerful and timeless messages of love, understanding, and peace.” There was also a piece of granite taken from the “Stone of Hope” – a statue that serves as the centerpiece of the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial. Lastly, the gift of a hand-made bronze sculpture, named “Rising Above”, which “represents hope…unity and resilience” was presented to the Pope.
The Pope gave Trump a medal made by a Roman artist, which was an olive (that serves as a symbol of peace). He also gave POTUS three works, on the topics of family, the joy of the gospel, and “care of our common home, the environment” – their official titles are: Amoris Laetitia, Evangelii Gaudium and Laudato Si. He also gave POTUS this year’s World Day of Peace message, and told Trump, “I signed it personally for you”, perhaps implying an underlying message of emphasis on peace and nonviolence in Trump’s growing role on the international scale.
The third of the encyclicals the Pope gave to POTUS, Laudato Si, is also known as “On Care for Our Common Home”, and discusses the dangers of consumerism, global warming, and calls “swift and unified global action”. Considering Trump’s actions and decisions regarding climate change policies in the United States, the most striking being the approval of both the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines, this document may be an indirect appeal to Trump to take more heed when it comes to global warming and climate change.
FLOTUS and the Pope also exchanged a few words, as she (later that day) visited the Bambino Gesu Hospital, coloring with the kids, taking selfies, signing bandages, etc. She had personally written to the pope asking to visit the hospital. This visit has also been done by Mother Teresa and Princess Diana.
“He is something,” Mr. Trump said of the Pope. “We had a fantastic meeting.”
Considering the somewhat rocky past relationship between Trump and the Pope, it is of great interest that both parties managed to put aside their differences to discuss means of achieving a more peaceful and stable world.