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Trump and Francis

PRESIDENT Donald J Trump’s audience at the Vatican with Pope Francis was the first meeting between the two men. Speculation was wild about what would occur at this meeting.  Contrary to some reports, it was not tense. It was simply another visit of a head of state to the Vatican.

The New York Times, among other news agencies, reported that Rome was inaccessible and the area around the Vatican was “shut down,” due to the president’s visit. In fact, this was not the case at all. One local priest reported to us that it was just another day around the area of St Peter’s Basilica. There was no more visible security than there would be for any other regular Wednesday audience.

The meeting between the Holy Father and the president was not cut short. The 30 minutes allotted is the usual amount of time given by the Holy See for such a meeting.

The focus by many in the media was on everything except what was really happening.

Perhaps the most egregious article was in a New York Magazine article (May 24) by Sarah Spellings, entitled “The Pope Mercilessly Dragged Donald Trump.” This article is so biased that it is amazing that it could actually be published.

Ms Spellings makes three bold statements, the first of which claims that “The Pope (jokingly) body shames the President to his wife.” The Holy Father, in fact, was engaging in playful repartee with the First Lady and the whole statement is taken out of context, attributing a certain meanness and unprofessionalism to our Holy Father.

The second statement that “The Pope gives a very subtle gift,” meaning that the gift of the writings of the Holy Father, including “Laudato Si’,” was specially chosen to “shame” the president. Wrong! It is customary for leaders of nations to be given a copy of the writings of the Pontiff as a gift. No such subtle message intended!

Finally, Ms Spellings claims “The Pope falls silent,” meaning that he did not have a big grin on his face in the photo taken with the First Family, as did the president. There are thousands of photos of the Holy Father taken in the course of his lifetime and, in many of those photos, he’s not grinning from ear to ear.

The real takeaway from this encounter was a successful dialogue on “their joint commitment in favour of life, and freedom of worship and conscience” and “the hope for serene collaboration between the State and the Catholic Church in the United States, engaged in service to the people in the fields of health care, education and assistance for immigrants,”  as well as the promotion of peace in the world through political negotiation and interreligious dialogue.   Instead, many in the media chose to use it as another opportunity to slam. – Tablet


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