President Trump has no doubt been given a long list of extravagant, elaborate gifts in his lifetime, from beautiful women, to flourishing businesses, to exotic plants and animals. But the gift given to him on Wednesday by Pope Francis will likely not appear on any “Best of” lists.
The two world leaders exchanged gifts as is customary in a meeting between the religious leader and the American leader. Unfortunately for Trump, Pope Francis took the opportunity to share his differing scientific and political views with the POTUS by giving him a letter the Pope penned in 2015 about his stance on climate change.
Trump has been a repeated critic of climate science, once arguing that global warming was a hoax invented by the Chinese. To his credit, Pope Francis has proved to be far more modern than his predecessors, which includes his strong belief in the science of climate change.
The Pope likely knows that among Trump’s many attributes is his tendency to mold his opinion around that of whomever he has most recently spoken. Could a letter from the Pope elaborating on the urgency of climate science have a lasting effect?
To his credit, President Trump gave the Pope a special edition box of books written by Martin Luther King Jr., a gift that we can’t imagine Trump himself actually thinking of. Pope Francis likely saw the irony in the racially-divisive POTUS using MLK’s books as an attempt at friendship.
The pope also gifted a small sculpture of an olive tree, telling Trump through an interpreter that it represents peace.
“It is my desire that you become an olive tree to construct peace.”
If the lackluster gift wasn’t a clue, it seems that the Pope’s usually cheerful demeanor was somewhat dampened by the President’s visit, a stark change from President Obama’s reception in previous visits.
— Michael Skolnik (@MichaelSkolnik) May 24, 2017
It’s easy to see that while Pope Francis remained cordial throughout the visit, the closeness we have seen between the Pontiff and the U.S. president in years’ past will certainly be more strained under our current leader.