The Odd Couple: When Donald and Francis Met
President Donald Trump made his way up gilded steps to greet Pope Francis in Vatican City early Wednesday morning.
The meeting was brief, lasting only 30 minutes, but several reports say the president was effusively gracious to the pope throughout the meeting. Trump gave Francis books by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and the pope also gave Trump a symbolic olive tree.
Honor of a lifetime to meet His Holiness Pope Francis. I leave the Vatican more determined than ever to pursue PEACE in our world. pic.twitter.com/JzJDy7pllI — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 24, 2017
Trump's first state tour around the Middle East and Europe has been rocky and fraught with PR misfires, but the air around this meeting between this particular pontiff and this particular president has been tense to say the least. Beyond living in fancy homes and promising to become a voice for the forgotten masses that helped them get elected, Pope Francis and Donald Trump have little to nothing in common.
From the beginnings of Francis' election to the papacy, the two have sparred in the media over climate change, income inequality, and particularly immigration, especially since Trump's ascendancy into the White House. Things started off so well:
Congratulations to my Catholic friends on the selection of Pope Francis I to lead the Catholic Church. People that know him love him! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 14, 2013
Then Trump became a bit critical:
I don’t like seeing the Pope standing at the checkout counter (front desk) of a hotel in order to pay his bill. It’s not Pope-like! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 19, 2013
Tensions between the two came to a head buring the heat of the 2016 Presidential Election when in February, Francis condemned Trump's proposed border wall and mass deportations as "not Christian" and Trump responding with a trademark fiery response about an ISIS attack at a campaign rally.
Here is the video of Pope Francis making comments about the wall & Trump's response concerning an ISIS attack on The Vatican.#PopeFrancis pic.twitter.com/tDzkOxB1pi — Red T Raccoon (@RedTRaccoon) May 24, 2017
What was spoken about in their meeting, and how it was spoken about, remains to be seen, but suffice to say that rarely the context behind the meeting of a pontiff and president has been this contentious and combative.
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