The differences between U.S. President Donald Trump and Pope Francis were noted by commentators at the time of Trump’s visit to the Vatican May 24. They include the treatment of migrants, the building of walls, and the environment, among others.
We do not know if any of these issues were discussed during their private meeting.
Another major difference has become evident.
Every month Pope Francis announces a new prayer intention, published by the Apostleship of Prayer, the pope’s worldwide prayer network. His prayer intention for the month of June 2017 is: “National Leaders: that national leaders may firmly commit themselves to ending the arms trade, which victimizes so many innocent people.”
This intention marks a stark contrast to what Trump considers one of his greatest triumphs on his first trip abroad as president.
In his visit to Saudi Arabia he signed a weapons deal worth nearly $110 billion immediately and up to $350 billion over 10 years. The White House labelled the deal "a significant expansion of . . . [the] security relationship" between the two countries. Simultaneously, Saudi Arabia signed a flurry of deals with private U.S. companies worth tens of billions of dollars.
"This package of defence equipment and services support the long-term security of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region in the face of Iranian threats, while also bolstering the kingdom's ability to contribute to counter-terrorism operations across the region, reducing the burden on the U.S. military to conduct those operations," the White House explained in a statement.
Trump claimed the deal was a fulfilment of his promise to provide jobs, jobs, jobs for Americans. However, American Catholics should be concerned about the kind of jobs he is providing.
The pope’s prayer intention for June certainly calls into question Trump’s priorities. It should also call into question his pro-life reputation. As the media report daily, and the pope’s intention notes, the arms trade victimizes many innocent people.