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Pope, Trump meet

Pope Francis and U.S. President Donald Trump spent 30 minutes speaking privately in the library of the Apostolic Palace May 24, and as the president left, he told the pope, "I won't forget what you said."
 
The atmosphere at the beginning was formal and a bit stiff. However, the mood lightened when Pope Francis met the first lady, Melania Trump, and asked if she fed her husband "potica," a traditional cake in Slovenia, her homeland. There were smiles all around.
 
Pope Francis gave Trump a split medallion held together by an olive tree, which his interpreter told Trump is "a symbol of peace."
 
Speaking in Spanish, the pope told Trump, "I am giving you this because I hope you may be this olive tree to make peace."
 
The president responded, "We can use peace."
 
Pope Francis also gave the president a copy of his message for World Peace Day 2017 and told him, "I signed it personally for you." In addition, he gave Trump copies of his documents on The Joy of the Gospel, on the family and Laudato Si' on the environment.
 
Knowing that Pope Francis frequently has quoted the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Trump presented Pope Francis will a large gift box containing five of the slain civil rights leader's books, including a signed copy of "The Strength to Love."
 
"I think you will enjoy them," Trump told the pope. "I hope you do."
 
After meeting the pope, Trump went downstairs to meet Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, and Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Vatican foreign minister. He was accompanied by Rex Tillerson, U.S. secretary of state, and H.R. McMaster, his national security adviser. The meeting lasted 50 minutes.
 
The Vatican described the president's meetings with both the pope and with top Vatican diplomats as consisting of "cordial discussions," with both sides appreciating "the good existing bilateral relations between the Holy See and the United States of America, as well as the joint commitment in favor of life, and freedom of worship and conscience."
 
"It is hoped that there may be serene collaboration between the state and the Catholic Church in the United States, engaged in service to the people in the fields of healthcare, education and assistance to immigrants," the Vatican said.
 
The discussions also included "an exchange of views" on international affairs and on "the promotion of peace in the world through political negotiation and interreligious dialogue, with particular reference to the situation in the Middle East and the protection of Christian communities."
 
Because of the pope's weekly general audience, Pope Francis and Trump met at 8:30 a.m., an unusually early hour for a formal papal meeting. The early hour meant Pope Francis still could greet the thousands of pilgrims and visitors waiting for him in St. Peter's Square.
 
Many of those pilgrims, though, had a more difficult than normal time getting into the square. Security measures were tight with hundreds of state police and military police patrolling the area and conducting more attentive searches of pilgrims' bags.
Reaching the St. Damasus Courtyard of the Apostolic Palace, where the U.S. flag flew for the morning, Trump was welcomed by Archbishop Georg Ganswein, prefect of the papal household, and a formation of 15 Swiss Guards.
 
After leaving the Vatican, President Trump was driven across Rome for meetings with Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni.
 
 
 
  • Published in World

US bishops welcome ruling on travel ban

The chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Migration welcomed a federal appeals court ruling that upheld a temporary restraining order against President Donald Trump's travel ban on refugees from seven predominantly Muslim countries that also temporarily suspended the country's refugee resettlement program.
 
"We respect the rule of law and the American judicial process. We remain steadfast in our commitment to resettling refugees and all those fleeing persecution," Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin, Texas, said in a statement Feb. 10.
 
"At this time we remain particularly dedicated to ensuring that affected refugee and immigrant families are not separated and that they continue to be welcomed in our country," the statement said.
 
The bishop pledged that Church agencies would continue to welcome people "as it is a vital part of our Catholic faith and an enduring element of our American values and traditions."
 
In a decision issued late Feb. 9, a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously rejected the government's argument to lift the freeze on the president's order and maintained that the court had jurisdiction in the case as a check on executive power.
 
Trump had argued that his order was a matter of national security and that the courts had no claim to adjudicate the issue.
 
The panel ruled otherwise saying that such an argument "runs contrary to the fundamental structure of our constitutional democracy."
 
The administration is expected to file an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court.
 
Trump said in a posting on Twitter minutes after the ruling was released: "SEE YOU IN COURT, THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!"
 
He later told reporters that the judges had made "a political decision."
 
The case was filed by the state of Washington, which argued that Trump's order was unconstitutional because it discriminated against Muslims and that state agencies were harmed because students and employees were barred from re-entering the country. The state of Minnesota subsequently joined the lawsuit.
 
U.S. District Court Judge James Robart of Seattle halted Trump's travel ban Feb. 3 by granting a temporary restraining order.
 
Several lawsuits have been filed challenging Trump's Jan. 27 executive order that suspended the entire U.S. refugee resettlement program for 120 days and banned entry of all citizens from seven majority-Muslim countries -- Syria, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia -- for 90 days.
 
Another clause in the order established religious criteria for refugees, proposing to give priority to religious minorities over others who may have equally compelling refugee claims.
 
  • Published in Nation
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