Pope Francis publicly presented President Trump with three of his writings after their first meeting at the Vatican today: his 2013 apostolic exhortation The Joy of the Gospel, his 2016 apostolic exhortation The Joy of Love, and Laudato Si, his 2015 environmental encyclical “On Care For Our Common Home.”
The White House said Trump and the pontiff “focused on how the United States, the Holy See, and the international community can work together to combat terrorism” in their closed-door meeting.
“The pope and the president discussed how religious communities can combat human suffering in crisis regions, such as Syria, Libya, and ISIS-controlled territory. The president affirmed that the United States and the Holy See share many fundamental values and seek to engage globally to promote human rights, combat human suffering, and protect religious freedom,” the administration said in a readout of the meeting. “The president also renewed the commitment of the United States to fighting global famine.”
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters that Trump and Pope Francis had “pretty extensive conversations around extreme terrorist threats and extremism, radicalization of young people… they got into quite a good conversation about it.”
The Holy See called the discussions “cordial” and said “satisfaction was expressed for the good existing bilateral relations between the Holy See and the United States of America, as well as the joint commitment in favor of life, and freedom of worship and conscience.”
“It is 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 statement added.
“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.”
The meeting lasted for about half an hour, after which Pope Francis greeted members of Trump’s family and delegation before the leaders exchanged gifts.
Trump gave the pope a set of books by Martin Luther King Jr., a photo of the pope’s 2015 address to Congress and a flowering lotus sculpture.
“This is a gift for you. These are books from Martin Luther King. I think you will enjoy them,” Trump told the pope.
Pope Francis has extensively cited the works of MLK, including in his congressional address, The Joy of Love and in a speech just a few days before the U.S. presidential election in which he warned of nationalism and fear that “weakens and destabilizes us, destroys our psychological and spiritual defenses, numbs us to the suffering of others.”
The pope also gave Trump a medal crafted by a local artist depicting peace. “We can use peace,” Trump commented.
After Pope Francis gave the president the collection of his own writings, including the climate change encyclical, Trump said, “Well, I’ll be reading them.”
The pope at one point quipped to first lady Melania Trump, referring to her husband, “What do you give him to eat, potizza?” She replied, “Potizza.” That’s a Slovenian dessert.
After the Trumps left, flying to Brussels for a NATO meeting, Pope Francis told a crowd of the faithful at his General Audience in St. Peter’s Square to focus on Jesus’ “therapy of hope.”
“Like the disciples, we too are sent forth to encounter others, to hear their joys and sorrows, and to offer them words of life and hope based on God’s unfailing love, which accompanies us at every step of life’s journey,” the pope said.