Pope and Trump meet in quiet diplomacy


Trump's visit to the Eternal City follows two stops in the Middle East where he visited the cradles of Islam and Judaism.

A US flag was prominently hung from one of the Vatican buildings facing St. Peter's Square in honor of Trump's visit.

There are hints of where the administration's thinking in the budget that it proposed this week, which cuts hundreds of thousands of dollars from State Department programs that manage environmental and climate change policy.

To show you the depravity of the human heart, I'd rather join a séance with the lovely but evil Trump ladies than have an audience with Pope Francis. He called on Arab and Muslim leaders to step up in the fight against terrorism during an address in Saudi Arabia, and he called on Israelis and Palestinians to get back to the negotiating table during remarks Tuesday in Jerusalem.

Trump, who grew up in a Presbyterian family but is not a regular churchgoer, said the accusation was "disgraceful".

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Trump had what he described as a "fantastic meeting" with Pope Francis, with whom he had clashed while running for president over his plan to build a wall on the Mexican border.

"A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian", Francis said then. "This is not the gospel", the Pope told journalists in February 2016. We'll never likely know exactly what the two said to one another over a half hour, but my prayer is certainly that he keeps his heart open to something more than power and ambition and all the bad paths onto which narcissism and defensiveness can lead.

"It is hoped that there may be serene collaboration between the state and the Catholic Church in the United States, engaged in service to the people in the fields of health care, education and assistance to immigrants", the statement read. "I won't forget what you said".

Trump 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, which the frugal pontiff uses only for official occasions. At one point, Francis kidded with the first couple. Francis apparently asked the Slovenian First Lady if she fed her her husband potica, a popular type of cake. They were followed by other members of the president's 12-member delegation who included Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, H.R. McMaster, National Security Adviser, and Louis Bono, chargé d'affaires at the USA embassy to the Holy See.

The pope handed out tokens, in white boxes, to each member of the delegation. Trump smiled broadly, the pope smiled less, but both agreed, at least for a day, to settle on the same message: the need to avoid conflict.

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The president and his wife had just landed in Italy Tuesday ahead of Wednesday's planned visit with Pope Francis. Trump also laid a wreath and spoke at a ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem on Tuesday.

Trump gave the pope an edition of the works of USA civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., including "Why We Can't Wait" and "Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?".

No agenda was revealed, except that afterward, Trump could be heard saying, "Thank you". "These are books from Martin Luther King".

"I think you will enjoy them", Trump told the Pope.

Human rights groups had urged Francis to raise United States use of the death penalty and the issues of torture and targeted assassinations with Trump.

Francis replied, "It is with all hope that you may become an olive tree to make peace".

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