By Kate Murphy
President Trump’s first foreign trip while in office continues as he meets one on one with Pope Francis on Wednesday, May 24. The two outspoken leaders have sparred in the past on immigration issues, most notably when candidate Trump was on the campaign trail.
While the pope didn’t mention Trump by name when he responded to a reporter’s question, the pontiff took aim at Trump’s pledge to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, saying, “A person who only thinks about making walls again and again, and not making bridges, is not a Christian.” Trump fired back and called the pope’s comments “disgraceful.” Candidate Trump added, “If and when the Vatican is attacked by ISIS, which as everyone knows is ISIS’s ultimate trophy, I can promise you that the pope would have only wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have been president.”
Rev. James Martin, S.J., who was appointed by Pope Francis to the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communications, spoke with Yahoo News and Finance Anchor Bianna Golodryga about what to expect from the meeting.
Given the debate between the two leaders, Golodryga asked Martin if there are any commonalities the two might share, to which he replied, “There’s the emphasis on religious liberty and religious freedom. I would imagine there’s some commonality in terms of being antiviolence and antiterrorism.” He added, “Beyond that though, there are vast differences in terms of the economy, income inequality, health care, and in terms of the environment as well.”
President Trump has called climate change a “hoax” perpetrated by the Chinese.
The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 6, 2012
We should be focused on magnificently clean and healthy air and not distracted by the expensive hoax that is global warming!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 6, 2013
The pope, on the other hand, supports the scientific evidence that climate change is caused by human activity. Trump has yet to make a decision as to whether or not he will withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accord. Golodryga asked Martin if the pope might be able to influence the president’s views on climate change. Martin said, “If the pope can’t convince him, I’m not sure who can.”
President Trump’s new budget plan was released a day before the meeting, which slashes funding for programs that support low-income Americans. Just after Trump’s inauguration the pope sent a telegram offering well wishes, but also reminded him that he needs to take care of the poor and marginalized. The Republicans’ health care bill that aims to repeal and replace Obamacare slashes Medicaid funding by $800 billion over the next decade, which would affect millions of poor Americans.
Some Republicans in office supporting the bill and the budget are Catholic, such as House Speaker Paul Ryan; House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney. Golodryga asked Martin how their religious convictions might affect their decision-making in their everyday jobs. Martin said, “You cannot get away from the fact that Jesus Christ tells us over and over and over again to care for the poor, and it’s fairly easy to understand what he’s talking about. It’s not something that’s up for a debate.” He added, “It seems pretty clear what the Gospels are asking us to do.”