Pope Francis met President Trump this morning and they appear to have hit it off. After a 30-minute meeting in the Vatican, the president emerged beaming, describing the private audience as ‘the honour of a lifetime’. The Pope, too, was described as ‘grinning from ear to ear’.
We don’t know if the two men discussed global warming, on which they famously disagree. Francis did give Trump a copy of Laudato Si’, his encyclical on the environment – but as Christoper Lamb, Rome correspondent of the left-wing Tablet, glumly tweeted: ‘No mention of climate change in Vatican statement’.
Lamb is not a happy bunny today. Last week he was excited about ‘the potential for fireworks’ at the meeting:
The Pope has become a de facto leader of the globalist, compassionate post-war consensus with his focus on refugees, climate change and inequality while the president is a more unpredictable figure. His largely nationalist ‘America first’ tone has been coupled with airstrikes in Syria and an escalation of tensions with North Korea.
That’s the level of analysis we’ve come to expect from the small group of liberal journalists who have effectively canonised Francis while he’s still alive. Before the visit, they were very annoyed by suggestions that the Pope and the president had a certain amount in common – they’re populists, they shoot from the hip, and neither is adept at turning grandstanding into legislation.
Today it appeared that the two men’s similar modus operandi got in the way of the ‘fireworks’ Catholic liberals had hoped for. Trump and Francis are both susceptible to flattery. The president was laying it on with a trowel as he emerged from the meeting, but it sounds to me as if he’d liked what he heard.
‘I leave the Vatican even more determined to pursue PEACE in the world’, he tweeted. Is there a hint there that Francis suggested they might work together as peacemakers? Stranger things have happened.