The images from Pope Francis’ recent meeting with President Trump and his family are priceless. Inexplicably donning black dresses and veils as if for a funeral, Ivanka and Melania stand with stricken expressions beside the grinning President. A healthy distance to his left, slumps Pope Francis, a dour frown on his face. It’s a color-coded portrait of good and evil in the same frame.
During the visit, the two leaders exchanged gifts. Trump offered a set of books by Martin Luther King, Jr., while the Pope slyly bestowed Trump with his 2015 encyclical on climate change. Whether or not this will change Trump’s perspective on compromising the environmental fate of the world remains to be seen.
The upside: this is no global warming rant by a left wing conspiracist, as many a climate scientist is perceived to be. Pope Francis even kicks off his encyclical gently, noting that his namesake, St. Francis of Assisi, “reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us.”
Who doesn’t want to be embraced by a beautiful madre? Certainly Trump would be eager for such maternal cuddling. Given the President’s respect for the Pope, he may be open to his message on climate change–and even to his concern for the refugees displaced by climate change.
“There has been a tragic rise in the number of migrants seeking to flee from the growing poverty caused by environmental degradation,” Francis remarks, noting that these migrants are not legally considered refugees.
If Trump is of sound mind (arguable), he might even perceive Pope Francis’ not-so-subtle tactic embedded in the gift and grow angry. Why is the Pope trying to manipulate him into making bad deals for America with what is essentially a long, boring list?
“He’s a showboat,” I picture Trump muttering under his breath as he flips through the encyclical. “A factory-fresh white Lamborghini. A not-so-great Versace suit you get ketchup up. A slice of cream cheese cake with 24 karat gold sprinkles on top. Look, that’s what he is. You know that, I know that, even Catholics know that.”