'We can use peace': Trump and Pope Francis meet

by Fredrick Graves May 25, 2017, 1:25

U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump meet with Pope Francis, Wednesday, May 24, 2017, at the Vatican.

The mood lifted with a gift exchange between the president and Pope Francis.

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 Islamist attack on the Vatican which would make the pontiff glad to have him as president.

"It is my desire that you become an olive tree to construct peace", the Pope said, speaking in Spanish.

"I signed it personally for you", the Pope offered.

Trump has never been one to let an insult, perceived or real, go by without a response, and he made no exception for the world's best-known religious leader.

After visits with the Muslims and Jews, President Donald Trump took on perhaps his toughest audience yet: the Catholics.

The entire meeting lasted less than 30 minutes, with Trump telling the Pope, "I won't forget what you said".

"We can use peace", Trump said.

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Trump and the Pope then exchanged gifts. "I think you will enjoy them", Trump explained.

The pope said a year ago a man who thinks about building walls and not bridges is "not Christian", a sharp reprimand for Trump's vow to build a wall along the USA border with Mexico.

The two held "cordial discussions" which enabled "an exchange of views on various themes relating to worldwide affairs and the promotion of peace in the world through political negotiation and inter-religious dialogue, with particular reference to the situation in the Middle East and the protection of Christian communities", according to a statement from the Holy See. It included First Lady Melania Trump, (clad in a black lace tea-length dress and black lace veil), Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, Trump's daughter, Ivanka, and her husband Jared Kushner (who are both now official advisors to the president).

Still, experts believe it unlikely the outspoken pope will do anything but be welcoming during his first meeting with Trump.

Both men looked far more relaxed at the end of the private meeting, with the pope smiling and joking with Trump and his wife Melania.

"Pope Francis' political and pastoral priorities do not line up easily with those of the Republican Party in general and Trump in particular", said the Rev. James Bretzke, a professor at Boston College. They shook hands and the pontiff asked her what she feeds the president.

Earlier Tuesday, speaking alongside Trump in Bethlehem, Abbas said the fundamental problem for the Palestinians is with the Israeli occupation and settlements and Israel's failure to recognize Palestine.

Leading up to the meeting the press was already reminding everyone of the less than loving relationship between Trump and the Pope during the campaign and noting their many differences in policy.

Francis smiled faintly as he greeted Trump outside the study and was not as outgoing as he sometimes is with visiting heads of state.


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