Pope Francis welcomed U.S. President Donald Trump at the Vatican on Wednesday morning delivering his message of peace even though he stands as the moral counter in the world to the new U.S. president’s nationalist agenda.
The men met in the private study of the pope for close to 30 minutes, joined by just an interpreter. The Pope sat behind a desk with Trump sitting across from him in a chair.
After a bit of awkwardness to begin, as Trump appeared uneasy as he was left waiting in the room prior to shaking the Pope’s hand, who as first remained stone-faced, the atmosphere quickly warmed up.
Once the bell was rung by Francis that signaled the discussion between just the two had ended, the two exchanged gifts.
Trump’s Vatican visit capped his week long quest to bridge some divides amongst followers of three of the religions of the world.
On his first foreign trip as the U.S. President, Trump spoke to a summit in Saudi Arabia of Muslim leaders, met with Palestinian and Israeli leaders in Bethlehem and Jerusalem and now with the head of the Catholic Church.
Arguably the most influential leader in the West, Trump and Pope Francis hold differing world views on things from climate change to migrant rights.
Following the private meeting between the two, Trump seemed gracious for the audience he had with Francis.
He thanked the Pope and said he would not forget what Francis has said.
First lady Melania Trump, dressed in a black dress and wearing a black veil, was greeted by Francis and spoke briefly with the Pope.
She appeared to be more animated than during earlier periods of the trip.
Mrs. Trump smiled while speaking with Francis, who told her something in English which prompted a laugh by the first lady.
Francis asked if she gave him potizza to eat, referring to President Trump and a dessert from Slovenia that the pope is known to like.
The first lady, who is from Slovenia, smiled then repeated potizza.
When the first lady was walking away an attendant of the pope gave her something that looked as if it were a rosary. She turned around and asked Pope Francis to bless it and he did.