Donald Trump holds Vatican meeting with Pope Francis

Gladys Abbott
May 25, 2017

The meeting follows a private audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican.

Trump and first lady Melania Trump had been scheduled to have private tour of the Sistine Chapel before the meeting.

Last week, the pope said he'd "never make a judgment about a person without hearing him out" when asked about the president. The president was heard thanking the pope and saying it was "a great honor" to be there.

Trump's stance on these issues "violates the sanctity of life that people of all faiths and none hold so dear", said Maya Foa, director of the British judicial rights group Reprieve.

The pope offered Trump a copy of his main writings, including "laudato si", his encyclical work on the environment which states his belief that climate change is largely man-made and must urgently be addressed.

He was joined by his wife Melania Trump, who had a veil on her head, in adherence to Vatican protocol.

The audience took place in the private library of the Apostolic Palace, the lavish papal residence that Francis does not use, having opted instead for modest lodgings in a guesthouse for visiting clerics.

In 2013, Trump tweeted that "the new pope is a humble man, very much like me" while Francis had promised to judge the man not the image.

The meeting between Donald Trump and Pope Francis could provide powerful imagery to Catholic voters back in the United States.

President Donald Trump appeared moved by his private meeting with Pope Francis, telling the pope that he "won't forget what you said".

The two men then posed for photographs and the pope kept a stern face while Trump beamed for the cameras.

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The pope did not smile as he greeted Trump outside the study.

The pontiff was then introduced to members of Trump's delegation, including his wife Melania, his daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner, as well as aides Hope Hicks and Dan Scavino.

Trump also met with the Vatican secretary of state Wednesday following his meeting with the pope.

Climate change activists projected the words "Planet Earth First" on the massive dome of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican Tuesday night and protests are expected in Rome later in the week when Trump travels to Brussels for a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation meeting and Sicily for a G7 gathering.

"By putting everybody together you can really build a coalition and show that it's not a Muslim problem, it's not a Jewish problem, it's not a Catholic problem, it's not a Christian problem, it really is a world problem", the official said. The meeting comes midway through his 9-day global trip.

The two men's worldviews collided head-on early a year ago, when Francis criticised Trump's election campaign pledge to build an impenetrable wall on the Mexican border and his declaration that the United States should turn away Muslim immigrants and refugees.

The media was led out of the room, and the two talked for about 30 minutes. Trump had dismissed the comments as "disgraceful" in his Facebook post and called the Pope a pawn of the Mexican government.

Trump's meeting with Pope Francis, his third stop on a nine-day foreign tour due to end on Saturday, is part of his world tour of religions after meeting leaders of Muslim nations in Saudi Arabia and visiting holy sites in Jerusalem.

It is hard to imagine a meeting between two more contrasting characters.

This story corrects the food the pope referred to in his conversation with US first lady Melania Trump.

The two men's often opposite worldviews collided head-on early a year ago, when Francis was sharply critical of Trump's campaign pledge to build an impenetrable border wall.

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