White House press secretary says they would be “honored” to have an audience with the pope in May and will be contacting the Vatican soon.
“Pope Francis is always available to welcome heads of state who ask him for an audience,” Monsignor Angelo Becciu, substitute for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State, told the ANSA news agency on April 19, 2017.
The statement followed an announcement the same day from White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, saying the administration would be contacting the the Holy See soon to schedule an audience.
“We will be reaching out to the Vatican to see if an audience with the pope can be accommodated,” Spicer said on April 19 at his daily press briefing in Washington.
“We would be honored to have an audience with His Holiness,” he said.
Until now, American statements have suggested that the newly elected president could travel to Italy without meeting the pope. Every American president since Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-1961) has been received in audience by the Roman Pontiff on their first official visit to Italy.
Meeting May 26 or 27
“At the end of last week,” the Vatican had still not received any official requests for an audience, Greg Burke, director of the Holy See Press Office, told AFP. Burke added, however, that he would welcome a request for an audience, did not foresee and scheduling clashes, and would do his best to ensure it happened.
US President Donald Trump is due to travel to Italy on May 26-27 to participate in the G7 meeting in Taormina, Sicily. On May 25 he will be in Brussels (Belgium) for a NATO summit. The meeting with the pontiff could therefore take place on the evening of May 25, or the morning of May 26. It is unlikely that it will take place on May 27, after the G7 meeting, as the pope will be on a pastoral visit to the city of Genoa (Italy), until Sunday, May 28.
The first encounter between a Supreme Pontiff and an American Head of State was held on January 4, 1919, between Woodrow Wilson and Benedict XV. Diplomatic relations between the United States and the Holy See were established on January 10, 1984.
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