Published: Thu, May 25, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Pope risks joke about Trump's size


Pope Francis met with President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump at the Vatican on Wednesday, May 24. They then posed for photographs before a private meeting.

There appeared to be no sign of major disagreements during Trump's visit, with the U.S. President calling it a "fantastic meeting".

It's against this backdrop that Pope Francis handed Trump a copy of his 2015 climate change letter, "Laudato Si: On the Care of the Common Home".

The Trump entourage - which included Trump's daughter Ivanka, son-in-law Jared Kushner and national security advisor H.R. McMaster - also visited the Sistine Chapel.

As is tradition, the pope and president exchanged gifts.

"This is a gift for you".

As Trump and the pope said goodbye at the door of the study, Trump told the pope: "Thank you, thank you".

The pope gave Trump what he said was a medal by a Roman artist.

In his years as a casino mogul, Trump allegedly disparaged his black employees as "lazy" in vividly bigoted terms, according to a 1991 book by John O'Donnell, a former president of Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino.

"It is my desire that you become an olive tree to construct peace", Francis said, to which Trump replied: "We can use some peace".

"That's so handsome", the president replied.

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Francis also gave a message of peace and three bound papal documents that to some degree define his papacy and priorities, including the family and the environment. Trump smiled broadly, the pope smiled less, but both agreed, at least for a day, to settle on the same message: the need to avoid conflict. Without naming Trump by name, the Pope said in February 2016 that "a person who only thinks about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian".

Every woman in the US delegation wore a veil, including Ivanka Trump, the president's daughter who converted to Judaism before marriage. Trump was then told that the pope said he was not Christian, and he responded by saying that was "disgraceful".

After a highly anticipated meeting, Pope Francis appears to have left his mark on President Donald Trump.

The U.S. president is to attend a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation meeting in Brussels on May 25 and a G7 summit that is being held in Sicily on May 26-27.

On Friday and Saturday, the president is back in Italy, specifically on the island of Sicily, for the Group of Seven summit.

"President Abbas assures me he is ready to work towards that goal in good faith, and Prime Minister Netanyahu has promised the same".

Against that backdrop, Pope Francis's diplomatic advisers would no doubt have counselled the outspoken pontiff against any reference to Trump's size, which came under considerable scrutiny during the U.S. election campaign.

The high-profile trip has diverted attention from Trump's domestic pressures over alleged campaign collusion with Russian Federation. In the second, he looks like he's never met someone more interesting than the president. Tillerson said climate change and migration issues came up in Trump's meeting with the cardinal secretary of state.

Despite the criticism, the first lady's attire was in keeping with the protocol of the countries she visited and the precedents set by foreign leaders who have visited them.

His effort to broker peace comes early in a Trump administration distracted by a domestic political firestorm, part of it self-ignited by the president's own comments.

Trump's Vatican visit was the third leg of his overseas trip, after stops in Saudi Arabia and Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

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