The White House moved quickly to quash any speculatiom President Donald Trump will not make an attempt at an audience with Pope Francis when he goes to Sicily for the G-7 meeting in May.
The Financial Times had reported "when Donald Trump visits Italy for the first time as president, one meeting will be conspicuously absent from his itinerary: He has no plans to meet with the Pope, according to U.S. and Vatican officials."
But the president's top spokesman revealed to Newsmax the administration was indeed trying to work out an audience with the Pope.
"Just to note, we will be reaching out to the Vatican to see if an audience with the Pope can be accommodated," White House press secretary Sean Spicer told us. "We'll have further details on that.
Spicer added "obviously, we'd be honored to have an audience with His Holiness.
"Right now, at this time, we're headed to both Brussels and Sicily," he said. "Old Newsmax, if we have updates on the schedule — and we're still plenty far away — I'm sure we will let you know about any additional stops."
If the FT report, written by correspondents James Politi in Rome and Demetri Sevastapolou in Washington, D.C., is accurate, it would mean President Trump and Pope Francis had ended a tradition of U.S. presidents calling on Popes whenever they are in Italy, which began in 1959 (when then-President Dwight Eisenhower had an audience with then-Pope John XXIII).
President Trump and Pope Francis have clashed in public over issues such as migration and climate change. During the 2016 primary campaign last February, while Trump was campaigning in the South Carolina Republican presidential primary, Pope Francis stunned reporters on the papal plane by denouncing Trump's signature issue of building a wall along the Mexican border.
"A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian," the pontiff said in response to a reporter's question about Trump.
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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