What common ground could Trump and Pope Francis find?
When Pope Francis was asked last week about his upcoming meeting with U.S. president Donald Trump, he made headlines for answering that he always tries to look for common ground, Christian Telegraph reports according to Catholic News Agency.
Given that they have vocally disagreed on prominent issues in the past, what will the areas of shared agreement be?
The two are set to meet at the Vatican Wednesday, May 24, at 8:30 a.m., before Pope Francis' weekly general audience.
President Trump arrives to Italy May 23 after stopping in both Saudi Arabia and Israel as part of his first international trip, which lasts nine days. He will also attend a NATO meeting in Brussels on May 25 and a G7 summit in Sicily on May 26.
Perhaps the most prominent area of disagreement between Trump and Francis is immigration.
During Trump’s time in office so far, U.S. bishops – who have Francis’ full backing on the issue – have been critical of Trump’s moves on immigration, criticizing the “ban” he implemented in his first week in office halting refugee admissions for 120 days – indefinitely for Syrian refugees – and temporarily banning visa permissions for people seeking entry to the United States from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.
Trump and Francis also have very divergent opinions on climate change. Francis insisted on the need to protect creation in his environmental encyclical Laudato Si, saying problems such as global warming are caused by human activity.
The Pope gave his full support of the Paris Climate deal in 2015, sending Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, to the Nov. 30-Dec. 11 summit as his personal delegate to the gathering.
Trump later threatened to back out of the deal, but delayed the process until after the G7 summit he’ll be participating in this week.
While there will certainly be these and other points the two disagree on, there are several issues – other than their shared disregard for formal protocol – that could actually bring the two together.
These, to name a few, could be: pro-life issues, above all defense of the unborn; religious freedom, particularly for Christians in the Middle East; and the push for a solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.
So while there are clearly many areas in which Pope Francis and Trump diverge, the meeting will likely find both men seeking to find common ground.
Francis himself during his May 13 press conference refrained from making a premature evaluation of Trump, saying “I never make a judgment of a person without listening to them. I believe that I should not do this.”
When the two finally meet, “things will come out, I will say what I think, he will say what he thinks, but I never, ever, wanted to make a judgment without hearing the person.”
Peace and friendship are things that can’t be forced, he said, explaining that they take daily effort and are “handcrafted.”
“Respect the other, say that which one thinks, but with respect, but walk together,” he said. Even if someone thinks differently, “be very sincere,” and respectful.