Many eyebrows were raised when Trump’s itinerary for the G-7 meeting in Italy, scheduled for late May, did not include the traditional meeting between the President and the Pope at the Vatican. Meetings between Presidents and Pontiffs date back to the administration of Woodrow Wilson. In fact, every President since Dwight Eisenhower has met with the Pope at least once during their administrations.
According to the National Catholic Reporter “World leaders normally make requests to meet with the pope with months of advance notice….” As Trump must have realized when British Prime Minister issued an invitation for Trump to travel to Great Britain in June, subsequently pushed back to October, you don’t just drop in on a head of state.
The White House is desperately scrambling to undo this apparent snub to the world-wide leader of Roman Catholics. On Wednesday, White House Press Secretary told reporters that the administration “will be reaching out to the Vatican to see if an audience with the pope can be accommodated.” He went on to say “We would be honored to have an audience with his holiness.”
The relationship between this particular President and the Vatican has been an unusually rocky one, dating back to the days of the campaign. As the National Catholic Reporter and other media outlets reported, “Trump criticized Francis as ‘a very political person’ because the pontiff was preparing to celebrate a public Mass on the southern side of the U.S.-Mexico border.
If the Pope celebrating Mass in a Catholic country can be considered “political” then it is the radical politics of Christ and countless Christians throughout the centuries who were willing to “speak truth to power.” Pope Francis has shown he is not a man who can be intimidated, especially by bullies, and responded to Trump by saying
“A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges is not a Christian.”
During his press conference Thursday, Trump announced “I look very much forward to meeting the pope.” This would be the same pope he had earlier called “disgraceful.” However, Vatican sources report they have still not received an official request for such a meeting and Sean Spicer admitted that the meeting had not been confirmed.
Pope Francis is known for holding forth vastly differing viewpoints from Donald Trump on everything from climate change to immigration. But he is also a humble and gentle man who would not stand on protocol. I am certain that if it is at all possible, the Vatican will do everything within its power to accommodate Donald Trump. After all, Pope Francis is all about building bridges, even with Donald Trump.
But if logistics, which are complicated, prevent such a meeting from occurring, Trump’s cocksure assertion on Thursday could easily be construed as a snub by the Holy See of the President of the United States. And, once again, Donald Trump would only have himself to blame.
Fans of the musical “Evita” will recall the scene where she visits the Pope during his Rainbow Tour of Europe on behalf of the Peron Regime. However, instead of receiving a Papal medal or other high honor, all she got was a rosary.
(Eva) Did you hear that? They called me a whore!
They actually called me a whore!
(Italian Admiral) But Signora Peron it’s an easy mistake
I’m still called an admiral
Yet I gave up the sea long ago.
(Aide #2) More bad news from Rome; she met with the Pope
But only got a rosary, a kindly word.
(Che) I wouldn’t say the Holy Father gave her the bird
But papal decorations, never a hope.
Generally, conversations with the Holy Father are kept private. Trump, like Evita Peron, will most likely receive a rosary and a kindly word.
But it would certainly be interesting to be a fly on the wall when America’s unholy terror comes face to face with His Holiness.