Pope Francis has welcomed US President Donald Trump at the Vatican, in a meeting that comes against a backdrop of disagreements on a range of issues, including immigration, climate change and refugee policy.
The two men’s world views collided head-on early last year, when Francis was sharply critical of Trump’s election campaign pledge to build an impenetrable wall on the Mexican border and his declaration that the United States should turn away Muslim immigrants and refugees.
“A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian,” Francis said at the time. The pontiff has been a vocal advocate for immigrants and aiding refugees, particularly those fleeing the violence in Syria, deeming it both a “moral imperative” and “Christian duty” to help.
Trump hit back by calling Francis’s comments “disgraceful” for doubting his faith.
But despite their previous disagreements, Al Jazeera’s James Bays, reporting from Rome, said that many expect a “pretty standard meeting” between a head of state and the pontiff.
On Wednesday, Trump will be given a tour of the Vatican after he arrives and will then first meet the pope in his library. The two men will then be left alone with a translator to hold a private discussion before emerging again to exchange gifts and farewells.
— Andree Böhling (@andreeboehling) May 23, 2017
Trump’s visit to the Vatican has met a number of smaller protests. Climate change activists projected the words “Planet Earth First” on the massive dome of St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican on Tuesday night as Trump arrived in Rome.