Pope Francis met with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence for an hour-long conversation at the Vatican on Friday, as President Donald Trump faces an impeachment trial before the U.S. Senate.
The Vatican and the U.S. embassy to the Holy See are not expected to release a statement about the conversation between Pence and the pope. Journalists present at the initial greeting between the two at the Vatican reported that Pence extended Trump’s greetings to Francis.
“I want to extend the warmest greetings on the part of President Donald Trump, who so enjoyed his visit here,” Pence told the pope.
Trump visited the Vatican in May 2017, accompanied by his wife Melania and his daughter Ivanka. At the time, the news coverage remarked that Francis was “stone faced” during the meeting.
The Argentine pope has often been depicted as being weary of the United States, especially after he remarked on a papal flight last September that, for him, “it’s an honor when Americans are attacking me.”
But during the meeting with Pence, Francis seemed to be all smiles. As a youth, Pence was Catholic before converting to become an evangelical Christian. He told the pope that the visit “made me a hero” in the United States.
Throughout his pontificate, Pope Francis has proposed ideas that seem to clash with U.S. foreign and domestic policy, from stressing the importance of welcoming immigrants and refugees to the need to build bridges and not walls.
On Friday, Trump will attend the yearly March for Life in Washington D.C. marking the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, which legalized abortion in the country. It’s the first time a sitting president has attended the event.
“It was a great privilege for me to spend time with Pope Francis and to be able to do so on a day that literally hundreds of thousands of Americans, including many Catholic Americans, are gathered on our National Mall in Washington D.C. standing up for the right to life, was a particular joy for me,” Pence told EWTN in an interview after the meeting.
Pence commented on the number of young people attending the march and called the debate on abortion “the most pressing moral issue of our time.” He also praised Trump’s anti-abortion policies since he took office.
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Source: Religion News Service