After months of the kind of hemming and hawing normally reserved for a courtship, it’s finally official – the Pope will receive President Trump for a private audience at 8.30 am on Wednesday, 24 May.

Five days after Francis told the traveling press en route from Egypt that no request for a meeting had yet been received from the White House, late-morning leaks from administration officials that the Vatican had been added to the President’s schedule for his first overseas tour – a weeklong trip centered on the late-month G7 summit in Sicily – were confirmed by the Holy See shortly before 6pm Rome tonight.

The announcement of the summit coincided with the US’ annual National Day of Prayer, which Trump is marking with a Rose Garden ceremony to sign an executive order on religious liberty, its precise contents not yet disclosed. Several prominent Catholic figures were present at the event, which notably began with a prayer from Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, one of Francis’ closest US advisers.

The New York developer openly slammed Francis last February after the pontiff – in reference to then-candidate’s signature pledge to build a wall along the Mexican border – said that “a person who thinks only of making walls, wherever they might be, and not of building bridges, is not Christian.” Within minutes, Trump replied in a statement that “if and when the Vatican is attacked by ISIS… I can promise you that the Pope would have only wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have been President because this would not have happened.”

Full story at Whispers in the Loggia.