Bishop expects candid Francis-Trump meeting

Written by Peter Smith on .

Pittsburgh Roman Catholic Bishop David Zubik acknowledged he'd "love to be a fly on the wall" when President Donald Trump meets Pope Francis on Wednesday.

On a flight home from Mexico after a visit, Pope Francis was asked about then-candidate Trump's talk of a border wall and said, "A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian.”

To which Trump replied: "For a religious leader to question a person’s faith is disgraceful.”

They'd have plenty to clash over these days, including Trump's crackdowns on illegal immigration, his proposed budget slashing programs for the poor and his rollback of environmental regulations. (Francis is, after all, the author of sweeping environmental manifesto, Laudato Si.) Francis might have more common ground over Trump's championing of causes emphasized by U.S. bishops, such as putting a conservative and presumed pro-lifer, Neil Gorsuch, on the Supreme Court and showing sympathy for the challenges by Bishop Zubik and others to aspects of the Affordable Care Act's contraception mandate.

But clearly the pope's focus will be on the needy, particularly immigrants, drawing from Francis' own experience. His parents immigrated to Argentina from Italy.

The pope recently said everyone needs to be "people of compassion," particularly those on the margins.

"It's important you take a look at the little people," Bishop Zubik said at his annual media breakfast, held Friday at St. Paul Seminary.  "The pope once again has spoken ... very forcefully about the forgotten" and with "such a conviction about immigrants."


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