1. Trump Meets With Pope Francis After Policy Clashes: ‘I won’t forget what you said,’ the president tells the pontiff after their 30-minute meeting

By Carol E. Lee and  Francis X. Rocca, The Wall Street Journal, May 24, 2017, 5:52 AM

President Donald Trump met Wednesday morning with Pope Francis, in a much-anticipated encounter between two leaders who have clashed in the past and share few policy priorities.

Seated across from each other at a simple wooden desk in the pope’s private study, Mr. Trump and the pontiff spoke for 30 minutes, along with an interpreter. The conversation appeared to have made an impression on Mr. Trump. Before leaving, he told the pope, ”Thank you, thank you. I won’t forget what you said.”

Later Wednesday, the Vatican is expected to issue a communiqué describing what the two men discussed.

In the portion of their meeting that was open to reporters, the pope did mention an issue on which the two disagree. The pope gave the president a copy of his encyclical on the environment, in which he argues that capitalism has contributed to the degradation of the environment at the particular expense of the poor. The president thanked the pope, saying he would read it.

After the meeting, Mr. Trump gave Pope Francis a gift of first-edition copies of writings by Martin Luther King Jr. , a nod to the pontiff’s reference to the civil rights leader during his 2015 address to a joint session of Congress.

In addition to his writings, Pope Francis also gave Mr. Trump a medal bearing an olive branch, a sign of peace. “We can use peace,” said the president.

After his meeting with Pope Francis, Mr. Trump met with Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Holy See’s secretary for relations with states. That meeting lasted 50 minutes, an unusually long time that suggests the conversation was heavy on specifics.


2. Pope welcomes Trump at the Vatican despite past disagreements

By Karen DeYoung, Philip Rucker and Anthony Faiola, The Washington Post, May 24, 2017, 7:15 AM

Pope Francis welcomed President Trump to the cradle of Roman Catholicism on Wednesday, delivering a message of peace even as the pontiff emphasized his standing as the world’s moral counterpoint to the president’s nationalist agenda.

The pair seemed to set aside their differences from last year’s campaign, with Trump appearing both presidential and deferential, while the pope, smiling slightly, seemed to be visually appraising him.

A brief Vatican communique later called the meeting “cordial,” and expressed hope for collaboration with the administration on “health care, education and assistance to immigrants.”

It said Trump and Francis had exchanged views on “international affairs and the promotion of peace in the world through political negotiation and interreligious dialogue, with particular reference to the situation in the Middle East and the protection of Christian communities.”

Trump’s visit to the Vatican capped his quest this week to promote “tolerance” among followers of three of the world’s religions and cooperation against extremism. On his maiden foreign trip as president, Trump has addressed a summit of Muslim leaders in Saudi Arabia and met with Israeli and Palestinian leaders in Jerusalem and Bethlehem.


3. ‘We can use peace’: Trump and Pope Francis meet

By Jonathan Lemire, Nicole Winfield and Julie Pace, Associated Press, May 24, 2017, 7:06 AM

President Donald Trump and Pope Francis, two leaders with contrasting styles and differing worldviews, met at the Vatican on Wednesday, setting aside their previous clashes to broadcast a tone of peace for an audience around the globe.

“We had a fantastic meeting,” the president said. “It was an honor to be with the pope.”

A statement released by the Vatican later said “satisfaction was expressed” at their “joint commitment in favor of life” and that there was hoped-for collaboration on health care and assistance to immigrants and protection of Christian communities in the Middle East.


4. Pope and Trump “Express Satisfaction” Over Joint Commitment in Favor of Life: The two leaders also highlighted freedom of worship and conscience, hoped for “serene collaboration” over issue of immigration, but environment not mentioned in Vatican statement

By Edward Pentin, National Catholic Register, May 24, 2017

In “cordial discussions” between Pope Francis and President Donald Trump this morning, “satisfaction” was expressed for “good existing bilateral relations” as well as “the joint commitment in favour of life, and freedom of worship and conscience.”

In a statement, the Vatican said it is also “hoped that there may be serene collaboration” between the Church and the Trump administration “in the fields of healthcare, education and assistance to immigrants.”

During their half-hour meeting, the two leaders also discussed “international affairs and the promotion of peace in the world through political negotiation and interreligious dialogue, with particular reference to the situation in the Middle East and the protection of Christian communities.”

Areas of convergence such as respect for life and religious freedom were stressed, as well as those issues of divergence such as immigration, although the statement did not refer to the environment, also an area where the Pope and Trump have differed.


5. Pope and Trump focused on life, religious freedom and conscience, Vatican says

By Crux Staff, Crux, May 24, 2017

Following this morning’s first-ever encounter between Pope Francis and U.S. President Donald Trump, a Vatican statement said that the two men focused on concerns they have in common during their half-hour together, including a “joint commitment in favor of life, and freedom of worship and conscience.”

Using the standard diplomatic verbiage, the statement referred to the discussion between Trump and Francis as “cordial.”

The Vatican statement, issued shortly before noon Rome time on Wednesday, some three hours after the meeting concluded, also said it’s 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 Vatican communique indicated that Trump and Francis also discussed a variety of international issues.

“The discussions then enabled an exchange of views on various themes relating to international affairs and the promotion of peace in the world through political negotiation and interreligious dialogue, with particular reference to the situation in the Middle East and the protection of Christian communities,” it said.


6. On cusp of Trump summit, Pope makes a statement about peripheries

By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, May 23, 2017

In a vintage Francis surprise, the pope used his Regina Coeli address on Sunday to roll out new cardinals from El Salvador, Mali, Laos, Sweden and Spain. In three of those five cases, we’re talking about countries that have never had cardinals before, and, with the exception of Archbishop Juan José Omella of Barcelona, Spain, all hail from places that would traditionally be regarded as “peripheral.”

Among these five new Princes of the Church, it would seem that the choice of Bishop Gregorio Rosa Chávez of El Salvador was the engine that drove the train for Francis in this particular crop.

As history’s first Latin American pope, Francis is keenly aware of what Rosa Chávez symbolizes to the church in that region. He’s the living embodiment of the legacy of Archbishop Oscar Romero, the martyr of Latin America who was killed while saying Mass in 1980 by gunmen linked to his country’s right-wing paramilitary groups, who wanted to silence his advocacy on behalf of the poor and oppressed.

Given that the U.S. government played an important role in developing, supporting and funding those paramilitary forces, the fact that announcement came just ahead of Trump’s arrival in Rome could be seen as a papal invitation to an examination of conscience.

Naming the first-ever cardinal from Sweden, for instance, is a logical follow-up to Francis’s visit to the country last October, when Bishop Anders Arborelius was the pontiff’s host as the country’s lone Catholic bishop. (Arborelius was already the first bishop of Swedish descent in the Catholic Church since the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century.)

By inducting Arborelius into the College of Cardinals, Francis is not only acknowledging the peripheries but also elevating one of the Church’s most ecumenically-minded prelates, reflecting his emphasis on the quest for Christian unity.

As for Bishop Louis-Marie Ling Mangkhanekhoun of Pakse in Laos, this is a clear case of a pope reaching out to a marginal location, even by Catholic standards. There are just about 45,000 Catholics in the entire country, with a total population of just under 7 million, and the Church is so small there aren’t even any actual dioceses in Laos, just four apostolic vicariates.

Similarly in Mali, where 90 percent of the population of 15 million is Muslim, Catholics represent just about 1.5 percent of the country, meaning that Archbishop Jean Zerbo of Bamako likewise leads a tiny community that’s far off the beaten path of both the Church and the world.

Francis, of course, is a convinced globalist, insisting that in the 21st century the fate of peoples and nations is inevitably intertwined, and that richer and more powerful societies have special responsibilities to the victims of a “throw-away culture.”

As a result, it may well have struck him that making a statement about the peripheries just before meeting the de facto leader of the center – one whose rhetoric, anyway, may suggest a certain lack of concern for the rest of the world – was the icing on the cake. These five prelates may not exactly owe their red hats to Donald Trump, but for those with eyes to see, there is nevertheless a message here.

The question now is whether the president gets that message – and, of course, what he does with it.