May 24, 2017
It took four days, but President Trump completed a religious trifecta -- traveling deep into the heartlands of Islam, Judaism, and Catholicism this week. His first foreign trip has been an eventful one, capped off today by his visit to the Vatican to meet Pope Francis with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in tow. Away from the flashbulbs and cameras, the two men excused themselves from the press and met privately for a half hour.
Among the topics, we're told, was an extensive talk about religious persecution around the world -- a subject near and dear to both men's hearts. Unlike President Obama, who refused for years to call Christian persecution by its rightful name, Pope Francis picked up the fight that the U.S., under the previous administration, abandoned. "Today we are dismayed to see how in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world many of our brothers and sisters are persecuted, tortured and killed for their faith in Jesus," he declared. "In this third world war, waged piecemeal, which we are now experiencing, a form of genocide is taking place, and it must end."
Now, with the arrival of a president who made religious liberty a core value of both his campaign and his first few months, the pope finally has a partner in the fight against the enemies of religious freedom. After the conversation, the Vatican released a statement reiterating the pair's "joint commitment in favor of life, freedom of worship, and conscience." In particular, the leader of one of the world's largest faiths said the discussions "enabled an exchange of views on various themes relating to international affairs and the promotion of peace in the world through political negotiation and interreligious dialogue, with particular reference to the situation in the Middle East and the protection of Christian communities."
While the president and the pope still have issues like global warming that reflect their policy differences, a common concern and focus on the human right of religious freedom will certainly have a worldwide impact.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.