President Trump had an audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace on Wednesday, receiving messages about peace, the environment and immigrants from the religious leader. The meeting came a year after the pope suggested Trump “is not Christian” because of his plan for a U.S-Mexico border wall.
Their encounter was smooth and brief, lasting about 30 minutes. The two leaders smiled as they posed for photos and Trump introduced first lady Melania Trump, along with his daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner.
“At the end of the audience, the pope gave Trump copies of his writings,” NPR’s Sylvia Poggioli reports from Rome, “including his encyclical on climate change — a topic on which Trump has a very different opinion.”
The pair exchanged several gifts: Trump gave Francis books by Martin Luther King Jr., and the pope also gave Trump an emblem of an olive tree, representing the need to pursue peace.
“We can use peace,” the president replied.
As they shook hands in farewell, Trump told the pontiff, “I won’t forget what you said,” adding that the pope should call on him for help.
After the meeting, Trump met with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni. When asked about his discussion with Francis, Trump said it had gone very well.
“He is something,” Trump said. “We had a fantastic meeting.”
“We’re liking Italy very, very much and it was an honor to be with the pope,” he added.
Trump later tweeted that it had been an “honor of a lifetime” to meet the pope. He added, “I leave the Vatican more determined than ever to pursue PEACE in our world.”