Letter #17, 2017: Trump Will Meet Pope Francis

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May 4, 2017, Thursday

Alert Today from the Holy See Press Office

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.

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A brief comment:

Some observers contend that Pope Francis Donald Trump are opposites.

Opposites in character, in beliefs, and in political viewpoints.

The proponents of this view suggest, therefore, that the upcoming May 24 meeting between Pope Francis and Trump, announced in Rome this morning, could be icy cold, and tense.

And unproductive.

These observers argue that Francis and Donald are opposites both in their characters (a humble man of faith and a brash man of business, and now of politics) and in their policies (particularly in regard to Islam and in policies to help the world’s poor).

One American writer, James Carroll, has set forth this thesis of “opposites” or “opponents” in a February 1, 2017 New Yorker article that is worth reading. The article is entitled “Pope Francis is the Anti-Trump.”

Carroll writes: “Pope Francis is, at this point, the world’s staunchest defender of migrants, and of Muslim migrants. A year ago, in a gesture widely understood to be a rebuttal to Donald Trump, he went to the Mexican side of the U.S.-Mexico border, and on his flight back to Rome said expressly of Trump, ‘A person who thinks only of building walls … is not Christian.'”

So that is one position, perhaps sketched here a bit too hastily and without sufficient nuances.

But the point is, the prognosis for the meeting seems poor.

A negative result seems not only possible, but likely — given these presuppositions.

On the other hand, however, a more thoughtful analysis might induce us to consider two additional points.

First, in nature, opposites attract.

That is, there could be a basis in nature, in the workings of natural law, for the idea that each of these men might be attracted enough by their “opposite” to create the context, the basis, for a discovery of some common ground.

In this case, instead of an icy confrontation, the meeting might bring about, through a scenario “thesis” and “antithesis” leading to “synthesis,” a positive result.

That is, the May 24 meeting may prove to be an unexpectedly productive meeting.

Second, and perhaps surprisingly, the two men may not, in fact, on a human basis, be as different as is generally assumed.

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In fact, both men have risen to positions of leadership through long years of preparation.

Both men are known not to “tolerate fools gladly” — that is, they do they have much time for those who do not agree with them without persuasive arguments.

In that sense, we have here two men who are, in a fundamental aspect of their characters and life stories, very much alike — they are leaders.

They have that quality, leadership, in common.

One is the leader of the world’s most prominent secular, political power, the United States of America.

The other is the leader of the world’s most prominent sacred, spiritual power, the 2,000-year-old Roman Catholic Church.

Given this, if well-prepared, this meeting, arguably, could go well.

If it goes well, it could lead to unexpected, and positive, results, for our world, which hopes for that condition of “ordered liberty” in public life which can bring the blessings of peace and prosperity to all mankind.

So perhaps, considering all of these things, we may be able to look toward the May 24 Pope Francis-President Trump “summit” with a certain hope for a positive result for all of us.

Pilgrimages

If you would like to travel with me to Russia and Rome in July on our 4th Annual Urbi et Orbi Foundation Pilgrimage, please email pilgrimages@insidethevatican.com.

If you would like to travel with us to England in the footsteps of St. Thomas More, please write to pilgrimages@insidethevatican.com for more information.

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What is the glory of God?

“The glory of God is man alive; but the life of man is the vision of God.” —St. Irenaeus of Lyons, in the territory of France, in his great work Against All Heresies, written c. 180 A.D.

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