Pope Francis wrote a letter to new President Donald Trump just after his inauguration, offering him good wishes and reminding him to serve the most vulnerable.
Francis, who throughout his papacy has emphasized the need for stewardship of the poor and displaced in a time of modern global upheaval, urged the new leader of the most powerful nation on earth to do the same.
“At a time when our human family is beset by grave humanitarian crises demanding farsighted and united political responses, I pray that your decisions will be guided by the rich spiritual and ethical values that have shaped the history of the American people and your nation’s commitment to the advancement of human dignity and freedom worldwide,” Francis wrote.
A pontiff who has become known for his willingness to say what’s on his mind, Francis commented last year on the divisive American campaign, rejecting Trump’s rhetoric about immigrants and his promise to build a wall on the border with Mexico.
“A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian. This is not the gospel,” Francis told journalists last February when asked against Trump’s promise to expel undocumented immigrants from the U.S.
As is his style, Trump didn’t hesitate to hit back at the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics.
“No leader, especially a religious leader, should have the right to question another man's religion or faith,” Trump said in statement. “If and when the Vatican is attacked by ISIS, which as everyone knows is ISIS's ultimate trophy, I can promise you that the Pope would have only wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have been president.”
Francis and former President Barack Obama met twice, once at the Vatican and once in Washington.
Francis’ brief letter reads in full:
“Upon your inauguration as the forty-fifth President of the United States of America, I offer you my cordial good wishes and the assurance of my prayers that Almighty God will grant you wisdom and strength in the exercise of your high office. At a time when our human family is beset by grave humanitarian crises demanding farsighted and united political responses, I pray that your decisions will be guided by the rich spiritual and ethical values that have shaped the history of the American people and your nation’s commitment to the advancement of human dignity and freedom worldwide. Under your leadership, may America’s stature continue to be measured above all by its concern for the poor, the outcast and those in need who, like Lazarus, stand before our door. With these sentiments, I ask the Lord to grant you and your family, and all the beloved American people, his blessings of peace, concord and every material and spiritual prosperity.”