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Pope Francis among Time Magazine's 100 most influential people

Risen Christ calls all to follow him on path to life Pope Francis says at Easter Enlarge Pope Francis holds a candle as he celebrates the Easter Vigil in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican April 15
Cris De Lacerda | 21 Abril, 2017, 22:33

'We will be reaching out to the Vatican to see if an audience with the Pope can be accommodated, ' White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said, according to USA Today.

Trump is scheduled to be in Taormina, in southern Italy, May 26-27 for a summit of G-7 leaders and representatives of the European Union.

"Obviously, we'd be honored to have an audience with His Holiness", he said. Prior to travelling to Italy, Trump is expected to be at a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in Brussels.

While it is traditional for USA presidents to visit the pope on trips to Italy, earlier reports had indicated Trump was not seeking a meeting with Francis.

Vatican spokesman Greg Burke told AFP Wednesday that the Vatican had not received a request from the US administration.

Most world leaders, however, give the Pope at least a seven-month heads up before descending on the Vatican. Just over a week ago, the Financial Times reported that President Trump would not come to Rome to meet with the Pope on this trip, citing unnamed "US and Vatican officials". These include Speaker Paul Ryan, Jim Nicholson, former Republican Party Chairman, and Congressman Francis Rooney: both Nicholson and Rooney are former USA ambassadors to the Holy See. The omission of a meeting on Trump's May travel schedule has led to speculation that the president was avoiding an encounter because of the two leaders' differing worldviews. Every president since Dwight Eisenhower has made the trip. "Trump also sees that wherever you sit on the political spectrum attacking the papacy isn't wise". The real estate magnate, whose apartment in Trump Tower is inspired by the Palace of Versailles, will be shown through a series of rooms with dizzyingly handsome frescoes.

Last February, Pope Francis spoke out against Trump's comments on immigrants.

"Anyone, whoever he is, who only wants to build walls and not bridges is not a Christian", Pope Francis told journalists past year while responding to a question about the president's anti-immigrant stance.

While the Pope has become a figurehead for a compassionate, person-centred global order standing up for the post-War consensus while Trump is a more unpredictable leader who has struck both a nationalist "America first" tone while recently launching air strikes in Syria.

The politics of the audience is also likely to be complicated by the Vatican links of Trump's chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, the man credited with drafting the president's controversial immigration travel ban. The latest name to be put forward is Callista Gingrich, the wife of former speaker, Newt Gingrich.