As part of his tour of the Middle East and Europe, Donald Trump met today with Pope Francis at Vatican City. It was the first meeting for the two men.
Politics and Other Stuff was provided with a transcript of the meeting by an unnamed source who has direct knowledge of the meeting and who passed on the information in exchange for anonymity. How I got this before the New York Times and the Washington Post I don’t really know. The meeting took place in the Apostolic Palace of the Vatican.
Donald Trump: I am honored to have this meeting with you, Your Holiness.
Pope Francis: Thank you. I wish I could say the same thing.
DT: I would like to compliment you on the exquisite furnishings and decorations in this building. There is almost as much gold here as there is in Trump Tower.
PF: Yes, it is beautiful. It has been accumulated over the centuries. I must say, however, that I find it somewhat over-the-top. I actually live in a very modest apartment elsewhere on the grounds.
DT: Really? Have you thought of converting this space into condos? I could have one of my children give you some advice about that.
PF: Thank you Donald, but I think that we will leave things as they are.
DT: Well, okay, but you are really passing up a great opportunity to make some big money on this. I know a couple Russians who would love to buy a place like this.
PF: Thank you for your advice. But we should discuss some more important things. I am concerned, Donald, about your desire to remove the United States from the Paris Agreement on Climate. The earth is our home. True statecraft is manifest when, in difficult times, we uphold high principles and think of the long-term good. The world we have received also belongs to those who will follow us.
DT: Well, my daughter Ivanka keeps telling me I should support that Agreement. But you know, Pope, may I call you Pope? I have one of my best and brightest cabinet members, Scott Pruitt, working on all that stuff at the Environmental Protection Agency.
PF: I have heard of Mr. Pruitt’s work. You must remember, Donald, that God in his majesty created the earth in seven days, leaving us with the abundance of resources that have sustained life for all these many years.
DT: Yeah, I’ve heard about that stuff. Pruitt tells me he can pretty much destroy much of that stuff in seven years. Coal, coal, coal. That’s what we believe in.
PF: Okay, Donald, I guess we are not going to come to an agreement on saving the planet. What about immigration? What about your famous wall between the United States and Mexico?
DT: It’s going to be a big and beautiful wall, Pope, and Mexico will pay for it. It’s going to keep out all those bad hombres.
PF: Donald, a person who thinks only about building walls – wherever they may be – and not building bridges, is not Christian.
DT: Stop right there, Pope. For a religious leader to question a person’s faith is disgraceful. Don’t you think if Jesus Christ were alive today that he would be building a wall between Israel and the Palestinian territory?
PF: Actually I feel pretty comfortable in saying that Jesus would remind us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. “Blessed are the peacemakers…”
DT: I’m not sure that I can love others the way I love myself.
PF: Okay, let me try with one more issue. I have read that the federal budget you are proposing would take away health coverage from millions of your fellow citizens, most particularly children. You would diminish assistance for the senior citizens and the disabled. You would cut back on housing for the poor. The United States is the richest country in the world. How can you do such things?
DT: Because, Pope, we can only make America great again if we make rich people even richer. The poor will be encouraged by my budget plans to seek a better life to earn their own way in the world, like I did. I built my business empire from scratch and so can they.
PF: I guess this conversation is not going to go anywhere productive, so we should say goodbye. Before you leave I would like to give you a copy of my encyclical, Laudito Si, which explain my suggestions for a better world, where the poor are assisted and the earth is protected.
DT: Yeah, right. I would like to present my gift to you, an autographed copy of my book, The Art of the Deal, which explains how you can get rich by taking advantage of other people. I sell this book on Amazon for $18, but for you it is absolutely free. If I were ever going to read a book, this would be the one I would choose. I am also giving you a one-year membership in my Make America Great Again organization.
PF: Thank you, Donald.
DT: It has been a privilege meeting with you. I admire your openness and honesty, although I don’t think that those things are of much value.
PF: You know, Donald, I once said, when asked about people’s lifestyles and how they differ from what I would prefer, “who am I to judge?” I think that I might make an exception to that when I think of you. But anyway, go in peace.