Pope Francis and President Donald Trump will meet during the latter’s first foreign trip later this month. Given the comments the two have made about each other over the last few years, the world now waits to see how they will get along.
Pope Francis, at least, says that he is withholding judgment until after he speaks with the president.
“I never make a judgement about a person without hearing him out.”
According to Time, the pontiff told reporters aboard the papal plane that he refrains from proselytizing, both in religion and in politics. Pope Francis also said that he will not attempt to influence Trump’s policies on climate change and immigration.
“That is a political calculation that I don’t allow myself to make.”
Instead, he will strive to find common ground with the president. He also said that he will listen to what Trump says and will be sincere with his own words.
According to Pope Francis, he will seek “doors that are at least a little bit open” and will work towards peace.
“Peace is artisanal. You do it every day.”
President Donald Trump has yet to respond to Pope Francis’ latest comments, but the two have previously clashed, mainly over the issue of immigration. In February 2016, Pope Francis openly criticized one of Trump’s main campaign promises: that he will build a wall to keep illegal immigrants from crossing the U.S. border with Mexico.
Christian unity is a priority, because we realize that much more unites us than separates us. pic.twitter.com/QEkTcrgmXn
— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) October 31, 2016
According to NPR, Pope Francis, who was returning home from a trip to Mexico, told reporters aboard his plane that Trump is “not Christian.”
“I’d just say that this man is not Christian if he said it in this way.”
“A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian,” he said.
Trump immediately fired back, saying that it was “disgraceful” that Pope Francis would question his faith. In a lengthy Facebook post, he also claimed that when ISIS attacks the Vatican, the pontiff will wish and pray that Donald Trump was president of the United States.
“If and when the Vatican is attacked by ISIS, which as everyone knows is ISIS’s ultimate trophy, I can promise you that the Pope would have only wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have been President because this would not have happened. ISIS would have been eradicated unlike what is happening now with our all talk, no action politicians.”
Then-presidential candidate Donald Trump also took the opportunity to drag Barack Obama into the issue.
“I am proud to be a Christian and as President I will not allow Christianity to be consistently attacked and weakened, unlike what is happening now, with our current President.”
In his social media rant, Trump also said that Pope Francis was being used as a pawn and that those who were doing so should be ashamed of themselves, especially when illegal immigration had become so rampant and lives were on the line.
After this, the Pope said no more. This was unusual for the pontiff, who had not shied away from talking about politics since stepping into his role as leader of the Catholic Church in 2013. According to the Associated Press, the Pope said that he will not interfere in an election campaign. But before the November 2016 presidential election, he gave voters some advice, asking them to pray, study the campaign proposals, and “choose in conscience.”
— Daily Mail Online (@MailOnline) May 11, 2017
In February this year, Pope Francis again threw some thinly veiled criticism at Donald Trump and his policies. The Guardian reports that he told an audience at the Vatican that Christians know “to not raise walls but bridges, to not respond to evil with evil, to overcome evil with good.”
President Trump will meet with Pope Francis on the morning of May 24, midway through his first international trip. He is scheduled to visit Saudi Arabia and Israel and will attend the NATO summit in Brussels and the G-7 summit in Italy.
[Featured Image by Franco Origlia/Getty Images]