Vatican Confirms: Pope Francis to Meet President Trump End of May
Confirmation of the visit, which follows plenty of speculation, will be the first stop of his trip to Europe.
Pope Francis will receive President Donald Trump at the Vatican later this month on his first foreign trip as president, the Vatican has confirmed.
In a statement released this afternoon, the Vatican said:
“His Holiness Pope Francis will receive the Hon. Donald Trump, President of the United States of America, on Wednesday, 24 May 2017, at 8:30 a.m. in the Apostolic Palace. President Trump will then meet with His Eminence Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State, and Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States.”
According to a May 4 White House statement, “President Trump will meet with His Holiness Pope Francis at the Vatican to discuss cooperation between the United States and religious communities in areas of joint concern.”
Trump also referenced the meeting during the May 4 White House ceremony at which he announced his new executive order protecting religious freedom.
“My first foreign trip as President of the United States will be to Saudi Arabia, and then Israel, and then to a place that my cardinals love very much — Rome,” the president said, gesturing as he spoke towards Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington and Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, who were both present at the event.
The news follows plenty of speculation over whether or not Trump would meet the Pope: at one point it seemed to be ruled out, but the prospects of a private audience at the Vatican increased when the president said last month he was “very much” looking forward to meeting the Pope, but did not say when.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters at about the same time that the White House would be reaching out to the Vatican to “see if a meeting, an audience with the Pope can be accommodated.”
Pope Francis said on his way back from Cairo last week that he still hadn’t had any notification from the Secretariat of State of a request, but added that he received “every head of state who asks for an audience.”
Trump’s Vatican visit will form part of his first overseas trip since his inauguration, and will take place just ahead of a NATO meeting in Brussels on May 25 and his participation in the G7 summit in Sicily the following day.