During his first foreign trip as president, Donald Trump met with Pope Francis, who he has publicly disagreed with on many issues.
It appeared to be a pleasant meeting. The pope isn’t going to pick a fight with him.
Though we don’t know exactly what they talked about since it was a private meeting, from news reports, I believe the three main topics were immigration, refugees and climate change.
When it comes to immigration, families should have rights. When I was growing up in West New York, one African-American family moved in. The priest told the congregation that the father had the right to take care of his family and therefore had the right to live there. Because of that, the community was accepting. I think that’s the same thing Pope Francis is saying. We need to make room for people who are seeking a better life. We have an obligation to them.
Immigration has made the country strong. Different cultures have left their mark in many ways, including with food. If we understand that, we can connect on other levels. I lived in Mexico for a summer. The people there were so good to me. They were very accepting.
The refugee issue is a matter of fairness. I’m sure the pope talked about the differences between how Christians and Muslims are treated as refugees. Trump’s executive orders limiting travel from several Muslim-majority countries have been blocked by federal appeals courts for illegally targeting Muslims. The pope probably told him we need to have respect for and welcome our brothers and sisters, regardless of religious affiliation.
With climate change, science tells us we’re causing global warming. We have an obligation to do something about it. Trump doesn’t agree with the science, but he’s not a scientist. It also interferes with his economic development plan of using coal, which might be faulty. Trump won the election, but not the argument.
If there’s one piece of advice Trump may take from Pope Francis, I think it would be to remain part of the Paris Agreement, the global action plan to limit global warming. But that’s definitely not a guarantee. The leader of the Catholic Church and the leader of the free world don’t seem to be on the same page about anything.
by Monsignor William J. Linder