Vice President of the United States of America, Michael Richard Pence, visited Pope Francis today, Jan. 24, 2020, in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace at noon.
Their meeting lasted an hour. The Vice President was accompanied by his wife, Karen, and his daughter in law, Sarah.
The last time a US Vice President had a private audience with the Pope in the Vatican was when Pope Benedict XVI received Joe Biden in 2011.
The Vatican is not expected to release a statement.
According to press pool reports, the VP was smiling ecstatically and Pope was in good spirits and cordial and warm.
When Pence first sat down in the papal library, he said: I wanted to extend the warmest greeting on behalf of President Donald Trump who so enjoyed his visit here.”
There was an exchange of gifts. The Pope gave Pence his five papal documents, and his Message for Peace, as well as a medallion.
Pence, on the other hand, gave Francis a cross made of wood from a tree in the residence of the vice president.
Ambassador Callista Gingrich and former House Speaker, Newt Gingrich, were present.
Before leaving, Vice-President Pence told the Pope: “You made me a hero.”
According to Vatican pool reporters, Pence was alluding to the fact that his mother is very Catholic.
Pence also told Pope Francis: “God bless you.”
Recently, Pope Francis met with US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, on Oct. 3, 2019.
“They reaffirmed the United States’ and Holy See’s commitment,” said State Department spokesperson, Morgan Ortagus, “to advancing religious freedom around the world, and in particular, protecting Christian communities in the Middle East.”
The Vatican also did not release a statement after that occasion since it only does so, for Heads of State.
On May 24, 2017, President Donald Trump of the United States of America, met with Pope Francis at about 8:30 a.m. in the Apostolic Palace, before Francis’ weekly General Audience in St. Peter’s Square. The meeting was broadcast by Vatican Television and could be watched via this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YVCm1-toVFg
According to a statement released by the Holy See Press Office, the discussions, which lasted about 30 minutes, were cordial. “Satisfaction was expressed, for the good existing bilateral relations between the Holy See and the United States of America as well as for their joint commitment in favor of life, and freedom of worship and conscience.”
“It is hoped,” it added, “that there may be serene collaboration between the State and the Catholic Church in the United States, engaged in service to the people in the fields of healthcare, education and assistance to immigrants.
The discussions, it also noted, “enabled an exchange of views on various themes relating to international affairs and the promotion of peace in the world through political negotiation and inter-religious dialogue, with particular reference to the situation in the Middle East and the protection of Christian communities.”
After the audience, President Trump’s wife, Melania, went to the Vatican’s children’s hospital Bambino Gesu, and his daughter, Ivanka, went to the Rome-based charitable community, Sant’Egidio.
The Vice President is visiting Rome as he returns from Jerusalem for Holocaust Remembrance events.
In the past, Pence has spoken to the Vatican on issues of common interest.
On Aug. 10, 2018, according to the White House, Pence spoke with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State of the Holy See, to discuss their mutual concern about the on-going political crisis in Nicaragua.
“Vice President Pence,” it said, “recognized the Catholic Church’s leadership and the Pope’s calls for mediation and the process of national dialogue made earlier this year. Particularly, the Vice President recognized the personal sacrifice of the church’s clergy in Nicaragua, for striving to protect human rights, defend religious freedom, and promote good-faith negotiations.”
“The two leaders,” it continued, “condemned the violence which has claimed hundreds of lives and increasingly targeted the Church, and reaffirmed their support for the Nicaraguan Episcopal Conference and the entire faith community who has stood firm in support of human rights, democracy, and freedom.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story is being updated continuously today
Copyright: Vatican Media Photo