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President Donald Trump met with Pope Francis at The Vatican on Wednesday. As AP Reporter Nicole Winfeld explains, the two leaders set aside their differences to broadcast a tone of peace. (May 24)
AP

As the world watched, President Trump and Pope Francis — two leaders with enormous megaphones, outsider personas and diametrically opposed views — found common ground Wednesday on issues such as the sanctity of life, religious freedom and peaceful coexistence.

By all accounts, the president and the pontiff tabled their public squabbles on immigration, unbridled capitalism, the death penalty, the arms trade and social safety nets. The hastily arranged encounter at the Vatican lasted no more than 30 minutes.

Have the pope and president, who previously lambasted each other’s rhetoric as “not Christian” and “disgraceful,” respectively, turned over a new leaf? Wednesday’s meeting on Francis’ home court sent mixed messages, according to Catholic leaders and parishioners across the country.

“Clearly these are two men that can (in the words of the pontiff) ‘meet one another doing good,'” said Grazie Pozo Christie, a policy adviser for The Catholic Association, a national group dedicated to defending Catholic values. 

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“Both are committed to fighting totalitarian ideologies that lack a fundamental respect for personal liberty and the rights of conscience,” she added.

In one endearing, yet politically loaded moment, the spiritual leader of America’s 70-plus million Catholics gifted Trump his writings on the family and the joy of the gospel, along with a copy of his 2015 encyclical, which criticizes world superpowers for not addressing man-made climate change. 

Throughout his campaign, Trump disparaged scientific research linking human economic activity to global warming. As president, he has recommended axing many environmental…