President Trump has arrived in Rome for his first audience with Pope Francis, at the Vatican on Wednesday.
The visit to the Vatican is the third stop of Trump’s tour of sites representing three major religions. Over the weekend he stopped in Saudi Arabia, where he delivered an address to Muslim leaders, and Monday through Tuesday he visited Israel and the West Bank and met with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
Trump and Francis will certainly have differences to iron out during their meeting. In February 2016 the pontiff remarked on then-candidate Trump’s key proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, saying it was un-Christian.
“A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges is not Christian,” Francis said.
Trump responded with a statement calling Francis’ remarks “disgraceful.”
“No leader, especially a religious leader, should have the right to question another man’s religion or faith.” Trump said. “They’re using the pope as a pawn, and they should be ashamed of themselves — that’s the Mexican government — they should be ashamed of themselves for doing so, especially when so many lives are involved and when illegal immigration is so rampant and so dangerous and so bad for the United States.”
Also, Trump and Francis have staked out different approaches to climate change, and their meeting comes as Trump weighs whether to pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement, which he promised to cancel within his first 100 days in office.
Asked recently what he expects from his meeting with Trump, given their differing views, Francis replied, “I will tell him what I think. He will tell me what he thinks. But I never wanted to judge someone before I listen to the person first.”