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- In a surprise announcement Sunday, Pope Francis named five new cardinals, for Spain, El Salvador and three countries where Catholics are a tiny minority: Mali, Laos and Sweden."Their origin, from different parts of the world, manifests the universality of the Church spread out all over the Earth," Francis said, speaking from the window of the Apostolic Palace to thousands of faithful in St. Peter's Square.Those chosen are Monsignor Jean Zerbo, archbishop of Bamako, Mali; Monsignor Juan Jose Omella, archbishop of Barcelona, Spain; Monsignor Anders Arborelius, bishop of Stockholm; Monsignor Louis-Marie Ling Mangkhanekhoun, apostolic vicar of Pakse, Laos; and Monsignor Gregorio Rosa Chavez, an auxiliary bishop in San Salvador, El Salvador.Francis will formally elevate the churchmen to cardinal's rank in a ceremony at the Vatican on June 28. Then the new "princes of the church," as the red-hatted, elite corps of churchmen who elect popes are known, will co-celebrate Mass with Francis the next day, the Feast Day of Sts. Peter and Paul, an important Vatican holiday.Since being elected pontiff in 2013, Francis has gone out of his way to visit his flock in places where Catholics are in the minority, as well as to improve relations between churches and among believers of different faiths.His brief pilgrimage last year to Sweden, where Lutherans are the Christian majority, was hailed by some as instrumental in helping to improve relations between the two churches. While there, he joined Lutheran leaders in a common commemoration of the Protestant Reformation that divided Europe five centuries ago.In Mali, Muslims constitute the predominant religious majority.And in Laos, the tiny Catholic community has struggled to persevere, including under communist-led rule.Catholicism has been the majority religion in Spain and in El Salvador, although in parts of Central and South America, evangelical Protestant sects have been gaining converts from the Catholic church
Pope Francis continues process of strengthening his legacy with five new cardinal picks from the 'peripheries' A Swede and a cardinal from El Salvador are set to become the first of their countrymen to vote for a new PopeWhen Pope Francis brought forward his trip to Egypt to April and cleared his diary for June, rumours started circulating in Rome that he was preparing to make a new batch of cardinals. It turns out the speculation was right. On Sunday, Francis announced he was admitting five new members to the world’s most exclusive club: the men dressed in the scarlet robes who have the task of electing the next Pope. For the Latin American pontiff, who has many powerful opponents inside the Church who are opposed to his reforms, choosing the makeup of the new body of cardinals is crucial as his successor will be tasked with implementing his legacy.With this in mind, the Pope announced that he was giving five new red hats to clerics from far flung corners of the globe; those working on the “peripheries,” the place where Francis believes the Church must go out to.And, as we’ve come to expect with Francis, there were some surprise picks. He has decided that for the first time a Swede, Bishop Anders Arborelius of Stockholm, will be made a cardinal, while El Salvador will have its first cardinal with the choice of Bishop Gregorio Rosa Chávez, an auxiliary in the Archdiocese of San Salvador, who worked closely with Oscar Romero, the martyred former archbishop of the archdiocese. Archbishop Jean Zerbo of Bamako, Mali and Archbishop Louis-Marie Ling Mangkhanekhoun, Apostolic Vicar of Pakse, Laos also become the first to have red hats from their country. Only Archbishop Juan Jose Omella of Barcelona, Spain is the choice from a traditionally Catholic country. Making the announcement following the traditional Regina Coeli prayer in St Peter’s yesterday, the Pope explained the new cardinals “come from different parts of the world, showing the catholicity of the Church”.Following next month’s consistory, to take place on the 28 June vigil of the Feast of St Peter and St Paul, Francis will have chosen 49 of the 121 voting cardinals, meaning he has chosen almost half of the electors.Throughout his pontificate Francis has stressed that becoming a cardinal is not about status but service and has made it his mission to give red hats to unambitious, pastorally-minded men. He’s also been keen to ensure cardinals now come from all over the globe: after the next consistory he will have handed red hats to 13 countries who’ve never had them before. It means a throwing out of the old rule book where leaders of certain prestigious dioceses or Vatican departments were automatically made cardinals. This in turn has undercut clerical ambition making it less appealing for bishops from small dioceses to try and be transferred to bigger ones.Critics of the Pope’s choices, however, say he is stacking the college with “personal choices” while his predecessors, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, respected convention even if it meant selecting cardinals who had a different ecclesial vision to them. Nevertheless, Francis has pushed ahead with creating cardinals he believes have the pastoral credibility to do the job, and are true representatives of their local church. Take Bishop Anders Arborelius, who is the first Catholic bishop of Swedish origin since the Reformation and in charge of the only diocese. A member of the Carmelite religious order, he works in a country where the tax office has a higher approval rating than the Catholic Church. As a result he has strong ecumenical relationships where the churches coordinate their efforts with prison, hospital and university chaplaincies.“In the past ‘Pope’ and ‘Reformation’ were opposite things,” Bishop Arborelius told me in Sweden during the visit of Pope Francis last November. “Now there is a link between the spiritual heritage of reformation and Catholic heritage.”He is an example of someone working in the existential peripheries of a non-believing country and where the tiny Catholic community is slowly growing: there are 113,356 official members which now use 100 Lutheran churches in Sweden. There are around 100 converts a year to Catholicism and it is this sort of “mission work” that the Pope wants to encourage. Although he is keen to create cardinals who follow his pastoral vision, by giving just five new red hats Francis is keeping to the self-imposed limit of 120 cardinal electors (those under the age of 80) established by Paul VI. This can be broken on papal whim with John Paul II increasing numbers to 135 during his papacy. Given the Petrine element of the feast of St Peter and St Paul, this is seen as an appropriate time to create cardinals: it is also a time when the Pope presents the pallium - a vestment made out of lamb’s wool - to recently appointed archbishops as a symbol of their jurisdiction. Francis’ three previous consistories have been in February, near to the feast of the Chair of St Peter, and November, to mark the Feast of Christ the King. These liturgical celebrations are all closely associated with naming cardinals.
Optimism in the Vatican on the eve of Trump's visit to Pope FrancisPresident Donald J. Trump and Pope Francis are scheduled to meet for the first time at 8:30 a.m., Rome time, on Wednesday, May 24. Vatican officials contacted by America, who spoke on condition of anonymity, consider the meeting of the utmost importance given the role of the United States in the world. They expressed happiness that the leader of the globe’s main superpower decided to visit the pope on his first foreign trip, and they seemed quietly confident that the meeting will go well.“It will be good. It’s going to be their first encounter, and the hope is that it will start a good relationship, open a channel of communication between the two sides, and send a message to the Catholic Church in the United States,” a senior Vatican official told America.After the traditional handshake and photo-op, the pope will escort the president into his private library and the two leaders will then sit facing each other across the table where Francis has spoken with many of the world’s leaders over these past four years, including U.S. President Barack Obama on March 27, 2014.“Much can happen when the pope and the president are together in private,” a close associate of the pontiff told America. He dismissed the notion that it would be a contentious encounter. “Francis will have prayed earnestly for God’s guidance before meeting the President. The Holy Spirit will help him,” that same source stated.Nobody America spoke to thought it would in any way resemble the encounter suggested by a Jeff Danziger cartoon that depicts President Trump telling Francis, “It’s a deal. You take care of the poor and I will take care of the rich.”The private conversation between the pope and the president, with the aid of translators, is expected to last somewhere between 30 minutes and one hour. (President Obama’s private talk with Francis lasted 52 minutes.) “It is a short time to get to know each other, but a lot of it is chemistry,” according to a Vatican source who knows well how such audiences go.Pope Francis has a gift that assists him greatly whenever he meets a person for the first time: a profound perception Father Angel Rossi, an Argentine Jesuit who knows him well, called “cardiognosis: the gift of knowing people’s hearts.” Father Rossi described it as “an intuitive intelligence” because “with very little information, he knows you...and you cannot hide things from him.” When he meets someone for the first time, Francis observes closely, listens attentively and seeks to go beyond what the person says to grasp what is in his or her heart.“Francis is the most gracious person I have ever met,” a senior European diplomat told me recently. He and other sources concur that the Argentine pope will be extremely gracious with President Trump, will encourage him to speak freely, and will listen attentively to all he has to say and, while doing so, will be on the lookout for openings that can lead to common ground.On the eve of his visit, President Trump nominated Callista Gingrich, wife of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, to be the new U.S. ambassador to the Holy See.The media in the United States reports that when he comes to the Vatican, Mr. Trump wants to talk about human trafficking and religious liberty. President Obama had those same topics on his agenda when he first met Francis, but we now know that they went far beyond them to discuss other very important issues, including the possibility of a U.S.-Cuba rapprochement. Something similar could happen this time.The U.S. president decided to begin his nine-day first foreign trip with visits to religious centers of Islam (Saudi Arabia), Judaism (Israel) and Christianity (the Vatican), and will conclude it by going to the European Union headquarters in Brussels and the G7 meeting in Taormina, Italy.Mr. Trump’s arrival at the Vatican will happen directly after his private talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. He is meeting with both leaders in Jerusalem and Bethlehem, respectively, to discuss finding a lasting peace solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. It seems highly likely that this issue will be the starting point for his conversations with the pope and senior Vatican officials who have long been desirous to reach that same goal.Another probable point for discussion is the question of combating and overcoming terrorism, particularly after the president’s moderate speech to leaders from 55 Muslim-majority countries in Riyadh on May 21. During this speech, he emphasized that the United States is not at war with Islam, describing it as “one of the world’s great faiths.” He also took the side of the Saudis and others against Iran, while at the same time calling on the religious leaders present at the meeting to join “in the battle between evil and good” and increase their efforts “to drive out” extremists from their midst.In addition to these crucial matters, sources expect Pope Francis and senior Vatican officials to discuss with the president questions on world peace, migration, climate change and the protection of the environment. The crises in Syria and Venezuela are also likely to appear on the agenda.President Trump will be accompanied by a sizable delegation when he visits the Vatican and while the full list of names has not yet been disclosed, sources say it will include his wife, Melania; his daughter Ivanka with her husband Jared Kushner; the national security advisor, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster; and Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson. Francis will greet them individually after his private conversation with the president has ended, and before the traditional exchange of gifts.After bidding farewell to the pope, President Trump, accompanied by some of his top advisors, will be escorted for private talks with two of Francis’ chief advisors: the secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and the secretary for relations with states, Archbishop Paul Gallagher.The first lady, on the other hand, will visit the Bambino Gesù, the largest pediatric hospital and research center in Europe, which is supported by the Vatican and often referred to as “the pope’s hospital.” Ivanka Trump will visit the Sant’Egidio lay community to participate in a discussion on human trafficking.The Vatican has gone out of its way to accommodate President Trump by arranging for him, at very short notice, to have a private audience with the pope at 8:30 on a Wednesday morning. Normally, Francis holds a public audience in St. Peter’s Square at 10:00 a.m. every Wednesday; before that, at 9:30 a.m., he drives among the faithful in the square. This time, however, the Vatican has announced that the public audience will begin a half-hour later, at 10:30 a.m. That is two hours after Trump arrives in the Vatican, thus allowing plenty of time for his conversations with the pope and his top advisors.Given that there are normally tens of thousands of pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square for the Wednesday public audience, the Vatican and the U.S. organizers of the visit have agreed that President Trump will not enter the Vatican city-state under the Arch of the Bells that is on the left hand side of St. Peter’s Square. Instead his motorcade will pass through the Porta del Perugino, near the Domus Santa Marta where Francis resides, and drive behind St. Peter’s Basilica to the Cortile di San Damaso, where he will be saluted by a platoon of Swiss Guards and then escorted to the Second Loggia of the Apostolic Palace for his audience with the pope.
Pope Francis: condolences to Manchester victims(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a telegram expressing condolences to the victims of Monday night's bombing of a concert venue in Manchester, England, and condemning the attack, in which at least 22 people were killed and 59 thers injured. Please find the full text of the telegram, below... *******************************His Holiness Pope Francis was deeply saddened to learn of the injury and tragic loss of life caused by the barbaric attack in Manchester, and he expresses his heartfelt solidarity with all those affected by this senseless act of violence. He commends the generous efforts of the emergency and security personnel, and offers the assurance of his prayers for the injured, and for all who have died. Mindful in a particular way of those children and young people who have lost their lives, and of their grieving families, Pope Francis invokes God’s blessings of peace, healing and strength upon the nation.
Deadly terror attack in Manchester, England(Vatican Radio) A deadly terror attack at a concert venue in Manchester, England, where singer Ariana Grande had been performing for a crowd of mostly teenagers. At least 22 people are dead, while 59 others have been injured.Police investigation as terror incidentManchester Police chief Constable Ian Hopkins made a statement in which he said authorities are treating the incident as a terror attack.Describing the attack as "the most horrific incident," Greater Manchester had ever faced, Hopkins said the investigation is "fast-moving" and working to establish whether the attacker "was acting alone or as part of a network."Over 400 officers of the Greater Manchester police force were on duty throughout the night.8 hospitals in the Greater Manchester area are treating victims.Election campaign suspendedBritish Prime Minister Theresa May has suspended campaigning in the UK general election, and has called a meeting of the Government’s emergency Cobra committee for this morning.Solidarity of Catholic communityThe Catholic Bishop of Salford, John Arnold, in which the Greater Manchester area is located, issued a statement saying, "The citizens of Manchester and the Catholic community are united in condemning the attack on the crowds at the Manchester arena. Such an attack can have no justification."The statement goes on to say, "I thank the emergency services for their prompt and speedy response, which saved lives."Bishop Arnold also called for prayerful solidarity with the victims and their families."We join in prayer for all those who have died, and for the injured and their families, and all affected by this tragedy," he said."We must all commit ourselves to working together," Bishop Arnold's statement concludes, "in every way, to help the victims and their families, and to build and strengthen our community solidarity."
At the Vatican, can Trump and Pope Francis put a rocky start behind them?The two have clashed on issues ranging from global warming to migration, but during a symbolic first meeting they’ll be on their best behaviorOne man wakes up before dawn each day for hours of prayer and meditation, eschews television and vacations, and has decried the morally bankrupting temptations of wealth, vanity and pride.The other begins each morning feasting on morning cable news shows, has played golf more than 21 times and visited his luxury Florida resort seven times since becoming the US president, and delights in publicly eviscerating his enemies.The personal, political, intellectual, and spiritual differences between Donald Trump and Pope Francis are vast.But on Wednesday morning those differences will likely be swept aside for Trump’s first official visit to the Vatican to meet with the Argentinian pontiff, a meeting that will likely include an exchange of symbolic gifts, a private chat where only a translator will be present, and a presentation of the pope’s writings on the environment to the US president.“It behooves neither of them to try to win an arm wrestling match,” one person close to the Vatican wryly noted, suggesting it was in both leaders’ interest to be on their best behaviour for the face-to-face encounter.The pair had a rocky start to their relationship. Francis is a diplomat at heart, but when he was asked about a plan by then-candidate Trump to build a wall between the US and Mexico, Francis said that a person who “thinks only about building walls ... is not Christian”. In turn, Trump called the remark “disgraceful” and said no man had the right to question another man’s faith.Now, more than a year later, the two are still divided on issues ranging from global warming to the need to accept and integrate migrants, but Francis has in the past shown his capacity to ignore fundamental clashes in values with other world leaders – like in his recent meeting with Egypt’s Abdel Fatah al-Sisi – if there are other issues at stake.In the case of Trump, the person close to the Vatican said, Francis would likely focus on the need to establish peace in Syria and across the Middle East.The papal biographer Austen Ivereigh said the upcoming meeting would reflect Francis’s role as a pastoral pope and that he would seek to “open a door that Trump can walk through any time”. (But that's if Trump even wants to walk through that door.)“He will be looking to develop a relationship of trust which can later be used by both or either of them to help people or help the church. It is not about sitting down and talking about immigration or Islamic terrorism,” Ivereigh said.While the meeting will be relatively short – Trump is travelling to Sicily for the G7 meeting in Taormina and will only briefly be in Rome – there is high anticipation for the encounter. The National Catholic Reporter noted that the pope usually gives political leaders a medallion imbued with a message, like the one Francis gave Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar in March, which depicted a blooming desert.While most meetings last about 20-30 minutes, Barack Obama – who had a warm relationship with Francis – spent nearly an hour with the pope in their first meeting in 2014, while Canada’s former prime minister Stephen Harper got only about ten minutes, NCR noted.After the meeting, the president’s daughter Ivanka is expected to make a stop at Sant’Egidio in Rome, a charity centre devoted to migrants, to discuss anti-trafficking efforts, while her stepmother Melania, the first lady, will visit the Bambino Gesu children’s hospital.Even as he seeks to build a relationship with the US president for the good of his own church and the issues they have in common – including the protection of persecuted Christians in the Middle East – there is an uncomfortable reality that nevertheless sets the stage for the historic meeting: the most vocal opponents to Francis’s reform agenda within the church are also clearly aligned with the thrice-married US president. (And there is also the possibility that the Pope's opponents receive support - in diverse forms - from the wealthy secular allies of the thrice-married US president.)They include the American cardinal Raymond Burke, who stood at the centre of a recent challenge to the pope’s authority over the fate of the Knights of Malta, an ancient Catholic order. Francis recently denied he felt any animosity toward Burke but the cardinal reportedly has been in email contact with Steve Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist.At the same time, progressive forces within the church are seeking to play an active role to resist the US president’s policies. Francis’s recent appointment in the US, Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark, New Jersey, is seen as embodying many of the values that Francis holds dear, and has been an outspoken critics of Trump’s policy pronouncements, especially on issues related to migration.Earlier this month, Tobin described the response of the church to anti-immigration policies in stark terms, reportedly evoking a scene from a novel about Italian fascism in front of an interfaith audience, according to a report in the Crux, a Catholic news website.“What keeps despots, dictators awake at night, what topples evil empires is the little person who goes into the square in the middle of town in the dark of the night and scrawls on the wall, ‘No.’ And I want to say to you, we are the ‘No’ that God scrawls on the wall,” Tobin said.
Francis asks Trump to work for peace in closely watched Vatican meetingVATICAN CITY - Pope Francis met Wednesday morning with U.S. President Donald Trump, speaking privately in the apostolic palace with him for about 30 minutes and asking later that he work for peace in the world.The atmosphere for the first encounter between the two world leaders, known to disagree on a range of issues, appeared at the beginning to be stiff and formal. As the pope greeted the president in the antechamber of the papal library, where they held their private meeting, he kept a straight face and did not smile.Following their discussions, however, Francis took more of a jovial tone. As the door to the library opened and he was introduced to First Lady Melania Trump, he shook her hand gently, looked at the president, and joked: “What do you give him to eat?”During the traditional exchange of gifts, Francis gave Trump a large medallion he has given to many world leaders that depicts an olive tree holding together two pieces of a fractured rock, telling the president: “I am giving you this because I hope you may be this olive tree to make peace.”Trump responded: “We can use peace.”The pope also gave the president four of his writings: The two apostolic exhortations Evangelii Gaudium and Amoris Laetitia, the environmental encyclical Laudato Si’, and his message for 2017’s World Day of Peace.Francis told Trump he had personally signed for him the gifted copy of the peace message, which focuses on nonviolence as a political strategy. Referring to the documents, Trump responded, “Well, I’ll be reading them.”At the end of the meeting, the president told the pope: "Thank you, I won't forget what you said." Francis responded in Spanish: "Buena suerte," or, "Good luck."Wednesday’s encounter has been one of the most anticipated between a pope and a head of state in recent history. Trump and Francis are known to disagree on a number of issues, such as on protection of the environment and how immigrants should be treated.Their disagreement on the latter issue famously caused a few days of high tension in 2016, when Francis questioned Trump's Christianity over his support for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and Trump called the pope's remark about him "disgraceful."In a statement following Francis and Trump’s meeting Wednesday, the Vatican described their conversation as “cordial” and said “satisfaction was expressed for the good existing bilateral relations between the Holy See and the United States of America.”“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 statement continued.It is unknown exactly what Francis and Trump said to one another during the private portion of their meeting Wednesday. Besides a Vatican translator, the two leaders were the only people present in the room.Thirty minutes is a normal length of time for a meeting between the pope and a head of state.While Francis spent about 52 minutes in a meeting with former President Barack Obama in March 2014, the pope’s time was also constrained Wednesday morning as he went directly from meeting with Trump to his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square.Francis first greeted Trump Wednesday in the apostolic palace’s Sala del Tronetto, the antechamber of the papal library.As the two shook hands, the president thanked the pope for having the meeting. They then walked into the library together, pausing for photos before sitting down. Trump smiled broadly as the camera shutters clicked but Francis kept a straight face and looked to the floor at points.They then sat across a wooden desk from each other, the pope leaning forward in his chair. The president told the pope it was “a very great honor” to meet him. The Vatican cut the live video feed of the meeting at 8:32 am to let the leaders speak in private.The video feed came back on at 9:02 am as Francis greeted the first lady, Ivanka Trump, and Jared Kushner. The pope then greeted the other members of the U.S. delegation, which included Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and National Security Advisor General H.R. McMaster.During the gift exchange, Trump presented Francis with a large black box that contained a set of the writings of Martin Luther King, Jr., who the pope had cited in his address to Congress during his visit to the U.S. in 2015. “This is a gift for you,” said the president as he presented the box. “I think you’ll enjoy them. I hope you do.”Beyond being one of the most anticipated visits by a head of state, Francis' encounter with Trump Wednesday was also considered by some Vatican officials as among the most possibly perilous for the pope.In the run-up to the event, a few of the city-state's diplomatic officials had quietly expressed concern to some reporters about whether Trump might describe in public what he and the pope had discussed in private, or even say something disparaging about the pontiff on Twitter.Through mid-day Wednesday in Rome, Trump's Twitter feed remained quiet.Following the meeting with Francis, Trump then met with Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and his deputy Archbishop Paul Gallagher. The Vatican said that meeting, which was also private, lasted about 50 minutes.Before leaving the Vatican, Trump, the first lady, and daughter Ivanka then visited the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica.Later in the morning, the first lady headed to visit the Bambino Gesu children’s hospital, owned by the Vatican and located in just a short walk from the city-state on Rome’s Gianicolo hill.Ivanka Trump headed to Rome’s Trastevere neighborhood for a visit with the Community of Sant’Egidio, a Catholic lay association that wields significant political influence in Italy and is favored by Francis particularly for its work with migrants.One project the group has been undertaking lately is called “Humanitarian corridors,” which raises funds to allow refugees escaping war and famine to enter Europe. The group says that between February 2016 and March 2017 it was able to help about 700 Syrians escaping that country’s ongoing civil war.The president is to have separate meetings around mid-day Wednesday with Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni.Trump arrived in Rome Tuesday evening after visiting Saudi Arabia and Israel. He heads to Brussels late Wednesday evening where he will meet Belgium’s King Philippe upon arrival and take part in meetings with NATO and European Union leaders Thursday.The president will head back to Italy Friday for a summit of G7 leaders, taking place in Sicily.Francis was not the only one at the Vatican in a joking mood Wednesday. As he was escorting Trump through the apostolic palace to his meeting with the pope, Archbishop Georg Ganswein, the prefect of the papal household, quipped to the president at one point that the building was similar to Trump Tower in New York.
Pope Francis and Donald Trump Meet at the VaticanVATICAN CITY — Pope Francis welcomed President Trump to the Vatican on Wednesday, shaking his hand before ushering him into his study for the first face-to-face meeting of the two leaders, who symbolize starkly different views of the world.Around 8:20 a.m., under a crystalline blue sky, the president’s motorcade rolled into the courtyard of the Apostolic Palace, where ostrich-feather-plumed Swiss Guards saluted as Mr. Trump and his wife, Melania, stepped out of an armored limousine.A few minutes before Mr. Trump’s visit, the pope arrived at the palace in a blue Ford Focus. He stepped out of the car and walked into a side entrance.For Mr. Trump, who landed in Rome after stops in Saudi Arabia and Israel, the audience in the Vatican caps a tour of the ancestral homes of three of the world’s great monotheistic religions. For Francis, who recently made his own landmark visit to Egypt last month, it was a chance to welcome a second American leader, after President Barack Obama paid his respects in 2014.Mr. Trump, wearing a dark suit, a white shirt and a black-and-white stripe tie, entered the Clementine Hall of the palace behind a dozen attendants and was accompanied by Archbishop Georg Gänswein, prefect of the papal household. (Does it really matter who accompanied Trump?)Mr. Trump nodded with a serious face as Archbishop Gänswein, who is close to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI (Yes, that seems to be the only thing that "defines" Gänswein.), made small talk. Behind them were Mrs. Trump, wearing a black dress and with her hair covered by a veil, who listened to an attendant, and Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and adviser, also wearing a veil over her hair and in a black dress with lace hem and pearls.They were followed by Ms. Trump’s husband, Jared Kushner; Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson; and H. R. McMaster, the national security adviser, who paused to examine frescoes. With other members of the president’s retinue, they walked past seven Swiss Guards standing at attention in front of a white papal throne, halberds in hand.The private audience ended at about 9 a.m., with the signaling of a bell, and soon after Mrs. Trump went into the pope’s studio.The president smiled broadly as he stood next to Francis, who looked more serious but smiled as he shook Mrs. Trump’s hand. The president then introduced his daughter, Ivanka, and the rest of his delegation, beginning with Mr. Kushner.The pope handed out rosaries to members of the delegation before the group posed for pictures, and then he bade the president and his wife farewell.Smiles and pleasantries aside, the atmospherics of this meeting were fraught. Pope Francis and Mr. Trump have diametrically opposed views on issues as varied as immigration, climate change and arms sales. Although both men seemed determined not to let politics intrude on their encounter, the underlying tensions were clear.On Tuesday night, Cardinal Peter Turkson, a top Vatican official with close ties to Francis, acknowledged the differences in a post on Twitter: “Pope Francis & Pres Trump reach out to Islam-world to exorcise it of rel. Violence. One offers peace of dialogue, the other security of arms,” he wrote, in an apparent reference to the $110 billion weapons sale that Mr. Trump concluded with Saudi Arabia.The pope and the president were both elected as outsiders promising to carry the far-off voices of the forgotten to the centers of global power. But that is more or less where the similarities end.Mr. Trump is the scion of a real estate developer and a thrice-married lover of all things gilded. Pope Francis has made a calling card out of modesty. When, in 2013, he paid his own hotel bill after being elected pope, Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter: “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!”The two have fundamentally different views about how to restore balance to a global economic system they consider broken, with Mr. Trump focusing on the engines of capitalism and Pope Francis fighting to protect the workers and the disadvantaged from dehumanizing forces of the modern world.“The thing they have in common is a major responsibility to govern,” said Antonio Spadaro, a Jesuit priest who edits the Vatican-approved journal La Civiltà Cattolica. “The pope is an actor on the world stage and Trump is the president of a country with a huge impact on the world.”Pope Francis, a savvy political operator, had signaled in the days leading up to the meeting that he was not seeking a confrontation.Speaking on the papal plane after a recent trip to Fátima, Portugal, Francis was asked what he expected from the meeting. “In our talk, things will come out, I will say what I think, he will say what he thinks, but I never, ever, wanted to make a judgment without hearing the person,” he said.That is a far cry from his previous remarks about Mr. Trump. In February 2016, Francis responded to a question about the president’s hard line against immigrants and his desire to build a wall along the border with Mexico, telling reporters, “A person who only thinks about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian.”Mr. Trump, a candidate at the time, swiftly returned fire. “For a religious leader to question a person’s faith is disgraceful,” he said at a campaign rally in South Carolina.“No leader, especially a religious leader, should have the right to question another man’s religion or faith,” he continued. “If and when the Vatican is attacked by ISIS, which as everyone knows is ISIS’ ultimate trophy, I can promise you that the pope would have only wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have been president.”
Donald Trump hails Vatican meeting with Pope Francis as 'an honour'Donald Trump has met Pope Francis as part of his first overseas trip as US president.TV images of the hastily arranged meeting at the Vatican showed Trump being greeted warmly by Francis before they sat down for a private 29-minute meeting at which only a translator was present.Trump could be heard saying it was “an honour” to be there, while the men shook hands. At one point, the pope, joking and smiling, appeared to ask the first lady, Melania Trump, whether she fed her husband a popular type of Slovenian cake.The seemingly genial meeting offered no hint of the rocky start to the pair’s relationship last year, when the Argentinian pontiff questioned then-candidate’s Trump’s Christian credentials.At the end of the private encounter the pope gave the president a small sculptured olive tree symbolising peace. Trump thanked him and said, “we can use peace.”Speaking in Spanish through an interpreter, the pope also gave Trump a signed copy of the message he delivered at the last World Peace Day and three of his major writings including his 2015 encyclical on the need to protect the environment.“Well, I’ll be reading them,” Trump said.He gave the pope a boxed set of writings by Martin Luther King. As Trump left he told his host “thank you, I won’t forget what you said”.The US president was also accompanied by his daughter Ivanka, her husband Jared Kushner, secretary of state Rex Tillerson, national security adviser HR McMaster, and personal assistant Keith Schiller.Footage of the meeting showed the pope greeting the president and Trump thanking the Argentinian pontiff as the two sat down at a wooden desk. About half an hour later, Melania and others were invited to join the pair in the papal library.As he shook her hand, Francis appeared to ask the first lady, “What are you feeding him, potica?”, referring to a popular Slovenian cake.A press spokeswoman at the Vatican said she could not confirm the remark but that she could confirm that Francis loves potica and always mentions it when he meets a Slovenian.It was unclear whether Melania understood what Francis was saying. She quizzically asked in response whether he was referring to pizza before smiling and saying yes.Melania and Ivanka wore black dresses and veils, traditional Vatican attire for women considered respectful, though not mandatory.Trump was greeted by Georg Gänswein, a German archbishop and prefect of the papal household who also serves as a personal secretary to Francis’s predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI.As the American guests headed into a Vatican elevator after their arrival, a male voice was heard to say: “It’s not like Trump Tower in New York,” according to a reporter for National Public Radio. The Wall Street Journal said the remark was from Gänswein, not Trump. (Now, how would Gänswein know what the interiors of the Trump Tower look like? Unless he's been there himself ...)Trump arrived at the Vatican at about 8.30am after spending the night at the residence of the US ambassador to Italy. That post has not yet been filled by Trump’s administration.While most meetings with the pope last less than 30 minutes, Barack Obama spent nearly an hour with Francis at their first meeting in 2014.After the meeting, Ivanka is expected to visit Sant’Egidio, a Rome charity centre devoted to migrants, to discuss anti-trafficking efforts; Melania, the first lady, will visit the Bambino Gesu children’s hospital.The president and pope have not always seen eye to eye. The two men’s contrasting world views collided early last year, when Francis was sharply critical of Trump’s campaign pledge to build a wall on the Mexican border and his declaration that the US should turn away Muslim immigrants and refugees.“A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian,” Francis said. The pontiff has been a vocal advocate for aiding refugees, particularly those fleeing the violence in Syria, deeming it both a “moral imperative” and “Christian duty” to help.Trump flies to Brussels later on Wednesday for a Nato summit, and wraps up his tour on Friday at the G7 summit on the Italian island of Sicily.
Pope asks Trump to be peacemaker, gives him environmental letterPope Francis urged U.S. President Donald Trump to be a peacemaker at their highly anticipated first meeting on Wednesday, and Trump promised he would not forget the pontiff's message.Under clear blue skies, Trump, who exchanged sharp words with the pope during the U.S. election campaign last year, received a tribute from the Swiss Guard in a Vatican courtyard when he arrived to meet the pope.Trump entered a small elevator taking him to the third floor of the Apostolic Palace and, after a long ceremonial walk past frescoed corridors, shook the pope's hand at the entrance to the private study, which the frugal pope uses only for official occasions.Francis smiled faintly as he greeted Trump outside the study and was not as gregarious as he sometimes is with visiting heads of state. Trump, seeming subdued, said "it is a great honor."Even when the two were sitting at the pope's desk in the presence of photographers and reporters, the pope avoided the kind of small talk that usually occurs before the media is ushered out.The two talked privately for about 30 minutes with translators.Both men looked far more relaxed at the end of the private meeting, with the pope smiling and joking with Trump and his wife Melania.Francis gave the president a small sculptured olive tree and told him through the interpreter that it symbolized peace."It is my desire that you become an olive tree to construct peace," the Pope said, speaking in Spanish through an interpreter.Trump responded: "We can use peace."Francis also gave Trump a signed copy of his 2017 peace message whose title is "Nonviolence - A Style of Politics for Peace," and a copy of his 2015 encyclical letter on the need to protect the environment from the effects of climate change."Well, I'll be reading them," Trump said.Trump's softer stance on environmental regulations is at odds with Francis' view that climate change is caused mostly by human activity.Parting PromiseTrump gave the pope a boxed set of five first edition books by slain U.S. civil rights leader Martin Luther King.As Trump and the pope said goodbye at the door of the study, Trump told the pope: "Thank you, thank you. I won't forget what you said."The meeting with the pope was the third stop on a nine-day foreign tour due to end on Saturday, and part of his world tour of religions after meeting leaders of Muslim nations in Saudi Arabia and visiting holy sites in Jerusalem.While his talks in Saudi Arabia and Israel were mostly friendly, the meeting between the head of the Roman Catholic Church and the thrice-married, blunt-spoken Trump had the potential to be a little more confrontational.The pope said last year a man who thinks about building walls and not bridges is "not Christian," a sharp reprimand for Trump's vow to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.Trump said it was "disgraceful" of the Argentine-born pope, who represents just over half of the world's two billion Christians, to question his faith."If and when the Vatican is attacked by ISIS, which as everyone knows is ISIS' ultimate trophy, I can promise you that the pope would have only wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have been president," Trump said during the campaign.The Vatican also took a dim view of Trump's anti-Muslim campaign rhetoric, although he softened his tone considerably in a major speech in Riyadh.Part of Trump's motivation for meeting the pope was to dramatize how the three major religions should rally against the threat from Islamist militants.Trump at first did not plan to stop in Rome during his visit to Europe, which some in the Vatican saw as a snub. When he changed his mind, the Vatican squeezed him in at 8:30 a.m. on a Wednesday morning, an unusual day and an unusually early time.After the meeting, Francis held his weekly audience with the general public in St Peter's Square.
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