President Trump — who infamously called Pope Francis “disgraceful” after the pontiff questioned his faith — may meet with the leader of the world’s Roman Catholics when he visits Italy next month.
“We will be reaching out to the Vatican to see if an audience with the pope can be accommodated,” White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Wednesday. “We would be honored to have an audience with his holiness.”
The statement came moments after Spicer seemed to throw cold water on the idea of a papal visit when a reporter asked if Team Trump had contacted the Vatican.
“If we have updates on the schedule, and we’re still plenty far away, I’m sure we will let you know about any additional stops. Till we have an update, I’m not going to go there,” he replied tersely.
But moments later, a White House staffer entered the briefing room and put a piece of paper on Spicer’s podium.
Trump’s spokesman glanced down and read the more positive statement.
Trump lambasted Francis in February 2016 after the pope criticized his plan to build a border wall with Mexico.
“A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not of building bridges, is not Christian. This is not the gospel,” the pope had said, prompting a typically bombastic response from the candidate.
“For a religious leader to question a person’s faith is disgraceful. I’m proud to be a Christian and as president, I will not allow Christianity to be consistently attacked and weakened, unlike what is happening now with our current president,” he griped shortly after learning of Francis’ comments.
“No leader, especially a religious leader, should have the right to question another man’s religion and faith.”
Trump also predicted that if ISIS attacked the Vatican, the pope would change his tune.
“If and when the Vatican is attacked by ISIS, which as everyone knows is ISIS’ ultimate trophy, I can promise you that the pope would have only wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have been president because this would not have happened,” Trump said.
The pope ducked when asked whether people should vote for Trump, but doubled down on his point.
“This man is not Christian if he has said things like that. We must see if he said things in that way, and I will give him the benefit of the doubt,” he said.
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