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The Pope Meeting Heads of State: Why Does It Matter? - Vatican Connections

Emilie Callan

June 6, 2017
In this episode of Vatican Connections we to talk about US President Donald Trump’s recent meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican on May 24.
Since then and only eight days after that historic visit, Trump announced he was pulling out of the Paris agreement. In December 2015, 195 countries signed a climate accord, agreeing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by half in order to prevent the increase of atmospheric temperatures. Vatican officials were hopeful that his meeting with Pope Francis and those at the G7 would influence Trump’s decision.
Some Vatican officials, such as Cardinal Reinhard Marx, a member of the Roman Curia and President of the Commission of Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community, however weren’t surprised, but the United States backing down from the agreement “erodes the global trust achieved”.
The prefect of the Dicastery for Integral Human Development, Cardinal Peter Turkson, in turn insisted, “This is something we hoped would not have happened”. He added that “certain issues, such as this one, “should be taken out of the political discussion and not be politicized” since “climate is a global public good and not limited to any country”.
Even before the it was announced, Argentinian Archbishop and chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo said if such a decision was made “it would be a disaster”, a “slap in the face”.
When the President met the Pope at the Vatican, a meeting which lasted 30 minutes, both men did not directly discuss climate change but the question was brought up between Trump and the Pope’s advisers. The Holy Father had offered the President a copy of his major texts, including his encyclical on the environment Laudato si'. Trump said that he would “read them”.
“The Vatican would always respect the decision of a sovereign state” said Cardinal Turkson. Despite what seems like a letdown, the Vatican is not easily discouraged. Anything can happen, and there is always “hope that some change can occur midstream”.