U.S. President Donald Trump has signalled that he expects to meet Pope Francis, with whom he has clashed in the past, when he travels to Italy next month. “I look very much forward to meeting the pope,” Trump said on Thursday, while addressing a joint press conference at the White House with Italy Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, The Guardian reports. The U.S. president will be in Italy late May for a meeting of the G7 industrialised democracies.
Minutes later Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, admitted that the meeting has not yet been confirmed.
Trump and the Pope fell out in February last year after the Republican candidate had pledged to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border.
The head of the Catholic church said, “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian.”
Trump responded that he was “proud to be a Christian” and described the pope’s comments as “disgraceful”. If the Vatican is attacked by Islamic State, he added, the pontiff would have prayed Trump was president to prevent it.
Pope Francis called for greater compassion for refugees less than a week after Trump tried to impose a travel ban on seven Muslim-majority countries.
Last month, the Vatican also urged Trump to listen to “dissenting voices” and reconsider his position on climate change.