Politics

Pope Francis Gives Trump Climate Change Letter As Gift

| by Michael Doherty

President Donald Trump visited the Vatican for a meeting and gift exchange with Pope Francis, though the pope's gift may have held a veiled message for the president.

The president's visit to the Vatican on May 24 was the latest stop on his first trip abroad, Politico reports. The president also met with Italian political leaders during his time in the area. The meeting with the pope was important in part because of the exchanges the two leaders had during the 2016 presidential election.

"Honor of a lifetime to meet His Holiness Pope Francis," Donald tweeted after the visit. "I leave the Vatican more determined than ever to pursue PEACE in our world."

The president gifted the pope with a set of books by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and a bronze statue meant to represent "hope for a peaceful tomorrow."

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Pope Francis gave the president a copy of his essay on nonviolence, as well as a signed copy of his encyclical letter on climate change from 2015, according to Uproxx. The president has previously said on Twitter that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese.

After the president was handed the 192-page document, he is reported to have said, "Well, I'll be reading them."

First lady Melania Trump and first daughter Ivanka Trump wore black dresses and veils, as is the custom for women meeting with the pope. As Pope Francis greeted Melania, he made what seemed to be a joke about the president's weight, according to Newsweek.

"What do you give him to eat?" asked the pope as he shook the first lady's hand. "Potizza?"

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Potizza is a Slovenian pastry served as a treat during holidays. "Potizza?" Melania asked, before responding, "Yes!"

The two shared a laugh as the president looked on, also smiling.

The pope and the president had traded harsh words with one another during the presidential campaign. Pope Francis had criticized Trump's campaign promise to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico, and implied that the then-presidential candidate was not a Christian.

"A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian," said Francis during a visit to Mexico.

Trump responded by calling the statement "disgraceful."

"If and when the Vatican is attacked by ISIS, which which as everyone knows is ISIS’s ultimate trophy, I can promise you that the Pope would have only wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have been President because this would not have happened," said the president in his response.

During their meeting at the Vatican, the two men appeared to have mostly put the past behind them. The president was also given a medal that has a rendering of an olive branch, which Pope Francis said was meant to symbolize peace.

"We can use peace," the president responded.

Sources: Uproxx, Politico, Newsweek / Photo credit: Franck Michel/Flickr

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