President Donald Trump swung by the Vatican to meet with Pope Francis on Wednesday, the last stop in his tour of the center of the three big monotheistic religions. The meeting between His Holiness and a man who once bragged on tape about groping a woman was bound to be a bit awkward, especially given that candidate Trump made the Pope a campaign target after Francis offered some thinly veiled criticism on his immigration policies.
But, at least for Trump, their first face-to-face meeting was “fantastic” – though it appeared to begin a little uncomfortably, as Twitter has pointed out. (“Protocol,” Pope Francis murmured before the shot, says the New York Times.)
The press pool also noted that Pope Francis didn’t quite match Trump’s eagerness, at first:
According to the Vatican, the president and the Pope discussed health care, education, immigration, and “the promotion of peace in the world.” The two exchanged gifts, with Pope Francis dropping a few big hints with his presents: a medal with an olive branch to symbolize peace (“we can use peace,” Trump acknowledged); a signed copy of his World Peace Day message; and a set of the Pope’s writings, including “Laudato Si,” the 2015 encyclical on the environment and climate change. “I’ll be reading,” Trump told him.
In return, Trump gave Pope Francis a set of first-edition Martin Luther King Jr. books. “I think you will enjoy them,” Trump explained.
The entire meeting lasted less than 30 minutes, with Trump telling the Pope, “I won’t forget what you said.” Trump later told reporters that Pope Francis “was something.”