Nearly every President, Republican or Democrat, visited the Pope. Obama, both George H.W. and George W. Bush, Clinton, and Reagan, just to name a few. Trump, it appears, is going to break that tradition.
Pope Francis and Donald Trump don’t have the best history together either. In February of 2016, Pope Francis even said that Trump “is not a Christian,” based on Trump’s feelings towards immigrants and wanting to build a wall. While Trump is leading the charge to crack down on immigration, Francis is becoming a leading voice against anti-immigrant practices.
They also disagree heavily on climate change. In March, Cardinal Peter Turkson, a close aide to Francis, implored to Trump to reassess his stance on climate change, especially after Trump reversed Obama’s environmental legislation. Pope Francis supports the Paris Agreement while Trump refuses to participate. Turkson warned that the U.S. could lose its status as the world leader to China.
The Pope always meets with heads of state who wish to see him, and presidents in the past took advantage of the Pope’s policy. It may be a sign of respect to the Pope, but it also important to the 70 million Catholics that live in the U.S. Even members of other denominations of Christianity, and many non-Christians, respect Pope Francis, who welcomes Muslims and Atheists (again, very different from Trump’s approach). Slighting a very popular Pope may not be in the best interest of someone already running for reelection.