Donald Trump to meet 'disgraceful' Pope later this month

  • 05/05/2017
Pope Francis and Donald Trump (Getty)
Pope Francis and Donald Trump (Getty)

US President Donald Trump is set to meet Pope Francis on May 24, the Vatican says, in what may be an awkward encounter given their opposing positions on immigration, refugees and climate change.

Mr Trump will be coming from the Middle East and stop in Rome before going to Brussels for a NATO summit and then to Sicily for a meeting of the Group of Seven.

The Vatican said the meeting would take place on Wednesday morning in the Apostolic Palace, an unusual day and an unusually early time for a head of state to meet the Pope.

Francis holds his weekly general audience on Wednesday mornings, and senior Vatican sources said the meeting with the president will be squeezed in before.

Last Saturday, the Pope said he was not aware of any meeting request from Trump. He repeated the policy of meeting with any head of state who asks for a private audience.

Besides being leader of the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, the Pope is a head of state. Such meetings allow for an exchange of views on world affairs and a chance for the Pope to encourage ethical solutions to world problems.

During last year's election campaign Francis said a man with Mr Trump's views on immigration and his intention to build a wall on the border with Mexico is "not Christian".

Mr Trump, who grew up Presbyterian, retorted it was "disgraceful" for the Pope to question his faith.

In March, Cardinal Peter Turkson, a close aide of the Pope, urged Trump to listen to "dissenting voices" and reconsider his position on climate change, after Trump signed an executive order dismantling Obama-era environmental legislation.

The environment is one of the Pope's central causes.