The Trump entourage, an impressive and powerful display of sixty plus sleek, black Chevy SUV’s, landed in Rome on Wednesday, breezed through Italy’s most chaotic traffic, and through the pearly gates of Vatican City for a historic visit between two powerful world leaders. Most Holy Father Pope Francis, bucked to a halt, in his old blue Ford Focus, a 2008 model with cloth seats, sporting the license plate, SCV 00919, the acronym for Status Civitatis Vaticanae, (the bullet-proof fishbowl Pope Mobile is SCV 1) or in Trump speak, the top dog around town. The world watched, waited, and held their breath for a peaceful, productive visit, that might, perhaps, mend a fence or two, that had been a tad fractured during the rancorous U.S. elections last fall.
I’m sure you remember Pope Francis calling Trump out on his border wall idea, “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian.” I think Trump called him a big meany and pointed out that Vatican City is encircled by a wall designed to, well, keep people out. (We needed a Ronald Reagan moment, “Mr. Pope Francis, tear down that wall!) With roughly 70 million U.S. citizens who self-proclaim as Catholic, it behooves both men to work toward building a productive relationship.
And more recently, Pope Francis and President Trump have been in complete agreement to stand firm with the resolve that Muslim leaders curb their extremist factions or face the consequences—God’s wrath or the U.S. military. It is evident both men have the hope of peace, in common.
But tensions were broken with a handshake and smile as Trump was escorted through the frescoed hallways of the Apostolic Palace to the Pope’s private meeting room on the third floor.
The Pope shuttled The Donald into a private meeting room, with only translators present to make sure neither man accidentally stepped on the other’s toes and closed the door to peeking interlopers. Oh, to be a heavenly fly on the wall for that discourse. I can hear the exchange in my head, complete with accents, “kiss my ring.” “No.” “C’mon, kiss my ring,” “No, but it is YUUGE.”
The private pow wow lasted approximately thirty minutes and when the bell chimed, and doors were flung open, each man wore a smile, and sighs of relief were audible from both sets of minions waiting at a discreet distance. The Pope even joked with First Lady Melania about her portly husband:
Francis had a light moment with the first lady, asking via translator, “What do you give him to eat, potica?” referring to a favorite papal dessert from her native Slovenia.
She graciously engaged in the conversation, in fluent Italian, admitting her husband likes his sweets.
As is custom, gifts were exchanged, and both world leaders expressed humility and gratitude in the thoughtful selections:
“This is a gift for you — these are books from Martin Luther King,” Mr. Trump said. “I think you will enjoy them.”
The pope then presented his gift.
“This is a medallion by a Roman artist: It is an olive tree, which is a symbol of peace,” the pope said. He explained it had “two branches, and a division of war in the middle.”
“We can use peace,” Mr. Trump responded.
The pope looked into the president’s eyes. “It is with all hope that you may become an olive tree to make peace,” the pope said.
During the visit, President Trump and First Lady Melania were treated to a private tour of the breathtaking architecture and artworks of Vatican City:
After the president and his entourage had met with Francis, Mrs. Trump was whisked off for a private tour of the Pauline Chapel, which has frescoes by Michelangelo, and of the Sala Regia, where popes held court for centuries. Both halls are normally off limits to the public.
Mrs. Trump then joined the president for a peek at the Sistine Chapel before visiting St. Peter’s Basilica, which was closed to tourists until the visit was over.
The nine-day Trump Lollapalooza tour has given the world a view, a much different one than detractors anticipated, of a business mogul morphing into a statesman. Leaders must come together, regardless of cultural, creed or economic differences, and promote a peaceful, global edict that eradicates terrorism protects the vulnerable and strives for diplomatic relations, above all else, to remain a covenant of conducting global relations. As Trump bid the Pope farewell, he remarked, “Thank you, thank you. I won’t forget what you said.” And, somewhere, the doves were released and soared towards the heavens.