“I look very much forward to meeting the Pope,” Trump told Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni at a news conference Thursday at the White house. Trump was referring to his trip to Italy for the G-7 sdummit in May. But it turns out, no such meeting had been planned.
White House sources quickly pointed out that nothing had been finalized about a flight to Rome from Sicily (where the G-7 meeting will be held) and resulting meeting with Pope Francis.
Sources within the U.S. Catholic community said that, where presidential audiences with Popes are historically arranged well in advance through intermediaries, the administration has not until now begun any of the legwork required to execute.
On the night before Trump’s news conference, April 19, Vatican spokesman Greg Burke told the Catholic publication America that no official request for an audience with Pope Francis had come from the White House.
At least one lay U.S. Catholic official said that the talks have now begun between Washington and the Vatican. One prospective stumbling block, the source told us, is the sharp differences between the Pope and the president on immigration.
“But this can be worked out,” the source said, recalling how presidents and Popes have historically avoided controversial topics on which they disagree and emphasized issues on which they are on common ground. “Trump and Francis might discuss the Mexico City Doctrine [U.S. policy that bans tax dollars for international organizations that provide abortion counseling] and the persecution of Christians in the Middle East [which the Pope has labeled genocide].”
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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