President Donald Trump has said he looks “very much forward to meeting the Pope.”
The president, who will be in Taormina, Sicily, in late May for a meeting of the Group of Seven industrialized democracies, was responding to a question during a press conference with Italian premier Paolo Gentiloni at the White House Thursday on whether he would meet Pope Francis while in Italy.
Trump was careful not to say when he would meet the Pope, only that he was looking forward to it.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer was cautious about the possibility of a May visit to reporters on Wednesday, saying “we’re still plenty far away” and “until we have an update, I'm not going to go there.” He then later said at the same briefing that the White House would be reaching out to the Vatican to “see if a meeting, an audience with the Pope can be accommodated.”
“We’ll have further details on that,” he said. “Obviously, we’d be honored to have an audience with His Holiness.”
President Trump will be attending the G7 summit May 26-27, sandwiched between a NATO meeting in Brussels on May 25, and the Memorial Day holiday on May 29, making it difficult to find enough time for a visit to the Vatican.
Both Trump and the Pope have had very public differences in the past, namely on immigration and environment policy, although they have convergent views on life and religious freedom issues.
A Vatican spokesman told the Register April 21 there are no new developments yet on a visit, but sources in Washington say an official announcement is expected soon, and that any meeting would most likely take place immediately after the G7 summit.