During a half-hour meeting Wednesday at the Vatican, President Trump and Pope Francis discussed a range of issues such as international affairs and the promotion of peace, with emphasis on healthcare, education and immigration.
The issue of climate change was also addressed with Francis giving Trump a copy of his 2015 encyclical calling for urgent, drastic cuts in fossil-fuel emissions—likely to pressure the president to consider participating in the Paris accord, a global effort to curtail climate change. Trump has voiced his skepticism of climate change, saying that it might be a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese.
“Thank you, thank you,” Trump said to Francis as they shook hands after the meeting. “I won’t forget what you said.”
Trump gave Francis a special edition of the works of U.S. civil rights leader Martin Luther King.
Prior to the meeting, a jocular moment occurred when First Lady Melania Trump was escorted in to meet Francis with Trump standing alongside him.
“What do you give him to eat?” Francis quipped, referring to president’s weight. “Pizza?”
Both leaders arrived at the meeting—arranged at Trump’s request—with differing views on many issues, including climate change. Francis believes countries should open their borders and welcome refugees, while Trump wants fewer of them in the United States. The pope has serious concerns about income inequality. Some allege that Trump’s proposed U.S. tax reforms would make the wealthy even richer.
“There’s a whole range of issues on which the pope and Trump differ, but the point of their meeting isn’t to forge agreement on them or to change each other’s minds,” papal biographer Austen Ivereigh said. “The point is to establish a bond of trust, which they can both call on in the future to further their agendas.”
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