White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters at his daily briefing Wednesday that the administration “will be reaching out to the Vatican to see if an audience with the pope can be accommodated.”
“We would be honored to have an audience with his holiness,” said Spicer.
Trump is scheduled to participate in a G7 summit in Taormina, Sicily May 26-27. While it is traditional for U.S. presidents to visit the pope on trips to Italy, earlier reports had indicated Trump was not seeking a meeting with Francis.
One such report from the Reuters news agency April 11 cited U.S. and Vatican diplomats who said they were surprised at the apparent unusual omission in the president’s travel schedule.
Vatican spokesman Greg Burke told AFP Wednesday that the Vatican had not received a request from the U.S. administration. “As of the end of last week we had not had an official request for an audience but for sure we would welcome it,” he said.
World leaders normally make requests to meet the pope with months of advance notice, and are usually accommodated, barring planned papal travel or other logistical issues. The omission of a meeting on Trump’s May travel schedule has led to speculation that the president was avoiding an encounter because of the two leaders’ differing world views. [More]