Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Trump, Francis: After Clashing, a Search for Common Ground

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Trump, Francis: After Clashing, a Search for Common Ground

Article excerpt

VATICAN CITY * They are stylistic opposites, one a tycoon turned president, the other a famously modest pope. They disagree on such weighty issues as immigration, climate change and economic policy.

But President Donald Trump and Pope Francis share a trait that adds drama to their first meeting Wednesday: unpredictability. And when they greet each other in a Vatican ceremony laden with history and symbolism they may find common ground, particularly in denouncing religiously inspired violence and demanding that Muslim leaders take a greater stand in rooting out fanaticism from their places of worship.

To reach public harmony, the two men, unquestionably two of the most famous figures on the planet, will have to set aside their past and very public conflicts.

When Trump took his oath of office on Jan. 20, Francis sent him a telegram of congratulations, offering his prayers for wisdom and strength that the new president's decisions would be guided by ethical values.

"Under your leadership, may America's stature continue to be measured above all by its concern for the poor, the outcast and those in need, who, like Lazarus, stand before our door," the message read.

It was a subtle reminder that the two leaders had gotten off to a rocky start over their different views on migration. Francis was critical early last year of Trump's campaign pledge to build a wall on the Mexican border and his declaration that the United States should turn away Muslim immigrants and refugees.

"A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian," Francis said then. The pontiff has been a vocal advocate for aiding refugees, particularly those fleeing violence in Syria, deeming it both a "moral imperative" and "Christian duty" to help.

Trump has never been one to let an insult go by without a response, and he made no exception for the world's best-known religious leader. …

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