Pope Francis and Donald Trump: hopes for peace and dialogue

Pope Francis and President Trump at the Vatican
Pope Francis and President Trump at the Vatican

Pope Francis and U.S. President Donald Trump had a half hour private meeting in the Apostolic Palace this morning, speaking through interpreters.

The Vatican press office statement said “During the cordial discussions, satisfaction was expressed for the good existing bilateral relations between the Holy See and the United States of America, as well as the joint commitment in favour of life, and freedom of worship and conscience. It is hoped that there may be serene collaboration between the State and the Catholic Church in the United States, engaged in service to the people in the fields of healthcare, education and assistance to immigrants.

The discussions then enabled an exchange of views on various themes relating to international affairs and the promotion of peace in the world through political negotiation and interreligious dialogue, with particular reference to the situation in the Middle East and the protection of Christian communities.”

After the meeting Pope Francis gave the president a small sculptured olive tree and told him through the interpreter that it symbolised peace. “It is my desire that you become an olive tree to construct peace,” the pope said.

President Trump then met with Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and Archbishop Paul Gallagher, foreign minister, before having a tour of the Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s Basilica.

After the meeting, Pope Francis held his weekly Wednesday audience with the general public in St Peter’s Square.

Trump, who was accompanied by his wife Melania, his daughter and his son-in-law, is on the third leg of a nine day tour that has included Saudi Arabia, Israel and Palestine.