Trump at Vatican for talks with Pope

Andrew Cummings
May 25, 2017

The meeting was keenly awaited as the two men have already clashed at a distance on issues including migration and climate change.

President and Mrs. Clinton meet with Pope John Paul II at the Vatican Thursday June 2, 1994.

"I really don't know because we have never come near a president because we don't like Trump", she said.

Like Trump, the Argentine pope has shown a predilection for unscripted comments that have shaken the staid Vatican bureaucracy, as when he criticized candidate Trump's proposed stricter immigration policies including a border wall as "not Christian". He also said he would read the texts the Pope gave him.

Only a few are entitled to avail of "privilège du blanc" or "privilege of the white", a rule that allows certain designated Catholic queens and princesses to wear white when visiting the pope.

He then travelled on to meet the Israeli and Palestinian leaders and was in Rome on Wednesday to meet the Italian government and Pope Francis for the first time.

After the meeting, they exchanged gifts.

In exchange, Trump presented the pontiff with a custom-bound, first-edition set of Martin Luther King Jr.'s works, an engraved stone from the King memorial in Washington and a bronze sculpture of a flowering lotus titled "Rising Above".

While his talks in Saudi Arabia and Israel were mostly friendly, the meeting between the head of the Roman Catholic Church and the thrice-married, blunt-spoken Trump had the potential to be a little more confrontational.

In a statement, the Vatican said only that the two men discussed "the promotion of peace in the world through political negotiation and interreligious dialogue" and homed in on the need to protect Christians in the Middle East. Whereas the conversation about potica was lighthearted, certain news organizations are viewing Pope Francis' question to Melania about President Trump's eating habits as a subtle dig towards Mr. Trump's weight. "I think he does to every world leader. Potica?" She looked puzzled at first, as did reporters, apparently thinking the pope was talking about pizza.

Francis had criticized then-candidate Trump in February 2016, after Trump unveiled a key goal of his presidential campaign: walling off the US border with Mexico.

The thousands of pilgrims on hand forced Trump's motorcade to enter Vatican City from a side entrance rather than the grand entrance through St. Peter's Square.

Trump at first did not plan to stop in Rome during his visit to Europe, which some in the Vatican saw as a snub.

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