I found the recent meeting of Donald Trump and Pope Francis fascinating. For I cannot think of another meeting in which we were presented with two characters simultaneously so different and yet so similar!
Different because politically one stands on the right and the other, though he should be politically neutral, is very much on the left. Different because one is a thrice married playboy billionaire and the other a celibate member of a religious order. Different because one was formed amidst the revolutionary junta of Argentina whilst the other is American to the marrow of his bones. Different because one seems to favour a globalist outlook and the other is fiercely nationalistic. And yet….(though it will doubtless ranckle those whose narrative is neatly divided into ‘people I love’ and ‘people I hate’)
Both are popularists whose charisma carries the crowd. Both egotists whose personality drives their message. Both shoot from the hip and are thus prone to verbal gaffs and lack of clarity. Both run roughshod over established protocol and largely ignore historic procedure. Both rule with an iron fist and opt to elevate loyal friends to an inner circle whilst demonising those they disagree with. Both are marmite figures whose tendency is to a division of opinion not harmonious agreement. And both are anything but dull.
How I would love to have been a fly on the wall when they met. The liberal left predictably delighted in one photograph of a scowling holy father at the photo shoot, whilst conservative voices delighted in shots of them laughing together. But photographs in the press do not tell a story. I wonder if they connected due to similarity of leadership style or clashed over ideological belief? Perhaps we will never know. But it certainly intrigued me.