On Wednesday, President Trump is set to continue his first international trip abroad by meeting with Catholic Pope Francis, the first meeting between two men who have historically not gotten along.
Though the two are deeply at odds in many subjects, we likely won’t see the pope acting in any way other than gracious toward the American president, at the very least because of his strict religious beliefs.
Pope Francis, a Jesuit, values acceptance and kindness at a very high level, meaning that even if President Trump misbehaves, he will likely continue to be received warmly. Still, President Trump can’t expect that joviality will mean the Pope won’t steer the conversation into uncomfortable territory.
James Martin, a Jesuit priest and editor-at-large of the Catholic magazine America, who is also a consultor to the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communication . . . said that while he doesn’t expect Francis to chide Trump, he also doesn’t expect the pontiff to stay silent on issues important to him.
“If questions like refugees and migrants arise, then expect the Pope to speak his mind,” Martin said.
The uncomfortable relationship between the religious leader and elected president is a unique one, but both men are unique in their positions anyway. President Trump has broken most norms during his brief time as President, while Pope Francis has defied many of the traditional expectations of the papacy as well.
Multiple times during the U.S. presidential election, Pope Francis made comments referring either directly or indirectly to debate subjects and actions of then-candidate Trump.
When Trump vowed to build a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico, Pope Francis planned a trip to the current wall and posited that any person who builds walls is “not a Christian.” Francis has taken more modern stances on other issues as well, including LGBT rights and global warming.
We have seen President Trump turn his opinions on a dime, based on the recommendation or advice of just one trusted advisor or friend. Could Pope Francis have this same impact that so many others have had, and what good could come from it?