President Donald Trump has met Pope Francis for the very first time, in what looked like a rather tense conversation. The Pope greeted the President with a smile, but then looked very serious as the two came together for a picture. The pair took a seat at the Pope’s desk, and Francis looked like he was ready to get down to business.
From what you can make out of their early exchanges, the Pontiff asks the President how things are going in the US, to which he replies, “Very good, actually!” Then, the microphones were turned off so that they could hold a private conversation. The two hold starkly opposing views on many key political issues, something that Cardinal Peter Turkson acknowledged on Tuesday night.
“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 multi-billion weapons sale that Mr. Trump sealed with Saudi Arabia.
“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, according to The New York Times. “The pope is an actor on the world stage and Trump is the president of a country with a huge impact on the world.”
But the Pope has maintained that he will not make a snap judgement on Trump, despite their differing views. “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.
The Pope went on to greet First Lady Melania, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, as well as other members of the Trump delegation.
Then, before the two exchanged gifts, Pope Francis quipped a witty remark.
“What do you give him to eat?” he asked Melania Trump in Italian, “Potizza?”
“Potizza!” Melania responded in delight, recognizing the Pope’s knowledge of the Slovenian dessert.
As the President and The Pope exchanged gifts, Trump promised to read copies of three Papal encyclicals that Francis gave him – one of which is his ‘Laudato si,’ a treatise about preserving the environment.
The other two concern family and the Gospels. “Well I’ll be reading that,” remarked an attentive President Trump.
President Trump gifted Francis with some First Edition writings of Dr. Martin Luther King, which the Pope greatly appreciated. Then, Francis presented Trump with a sculpture, explaining that it depicts an olive branch extended as a sign of peace, with the division of war in the middle. But that the two sides are slowly coming togther.
“Well, we could use that. We could do with peace,” responded Trump, to Francis’ delight.
“This is the message of peace. I signed it personally for you,” Francis told him.
“Ooh,” Trump said. “That’s so beautiful. Thank you so much”
Trump left the meeting, turning to the Pope to say “I won’t forget what you said.”
You can watch President Trump meet the Pope below, and see him meet the rest of the Trump family beneath that.