Pope Francis and President Donald Trump have made no secret of their opposing viewpoints: on immigration, on climate change, or on walls. So many people were curious to see how their recent meeting at the Vatican in Rome would play out. The meeting appeared quite respectful but the Pope left Trump with an epic gift: the encyclical he penned on climate change.
Climate change was on the schedule for Trump’s visit to the Vatican. The Pope had the subject on the agenda, and Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State at the Vatican, exhorted Trump to not yank America out of the 2015 Paris climate agreement. Trump said he wouldn’t make his decision until after he went back to the United States.
Pope Francis had told reporters, “In our talk, things will come out. I will say what I think, he will say what he thinks, but I never, ever, wanted to make a judgment without hearing the person.”
The Pope made his stance on climate change clear in his gift of a copy of Laudato si’: On Care For Our Common Home, his encyclidal, or papal letter, presented in 2015. The letter is all about the connection between the environment and human life; in it the Pope says, “Climate change is a global problem with grave implications…It represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day. Its worst impact will probably be felt by developing countries in coming decades.”
Writings on family, the Christian Gospel, and the recent World Day of Peace message – personally signed – were among the Pope’s other gifts to Trump, who gave the religious leader books by Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Pope also gifted Trump a medallion carved with an olive tree, which he said is a symbol of peace. Trump said, “We can use peace.” Pope Francis said, “It is with all hope that you may become an olive tree to make peace.” And as the two said goodbye, Trump reportedly said, “I won’t forget what you said.”
You can read Laudato si’ for free online here.
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