Pope Francis has stated that he will not seek to preach to US President Donald Trump on his immigration and environmental positions during their upcoming meeting in the Vatican and would rather hope to find a common ground with him.
“I have never judged anyone without listening to them first,” said the Argentine pontiff Saturday aboard the papal plane on his return from a trip to Portugal, adding that he hoped to hear “a message of peace for the world.”
“I think he will say what he thinks,” noted the pope, who is scheduled to meet Trump on May 24, mid-way through his first trip abroad as president after visiting Saudi Arabia and Israel and prior to taking part in a NATO summit in Brussels and a G-7 summit in Italy.
The pontiff’s remarks came amid speculations about what he and the hawkish US president will discuss considering his earlier declaration, insisting that anyone who wants to build walls to keep out migrants is “not Christian.”
The 80-year-old Francis has condemned the idea of using walls and barbed wire to keep out immigrants, while Trump, who made the construction of a wall along the US-Mexico border as a signature campaign pledge, censured pope’s remarks, saying it was “disgraceful” that the pope would question his faith.
Trump’s administration had also tried to shut US borders to refugees and nationals from some Muslim-majority nations, a move that contradicts with Francis’ calls for welcoming and integrating people forced from their homes.
Pope said that in talks, he always tries to find “doors that are at least a little bit open, where common ground can be found, particularly in peace-building.