Speculation that President Donald Trump will meet Pope Francis during his visit to Italy next month is building, America magazine reports.
The Vatican spokesman, Greg Burke, told America that no official request for an audience had arrived at the Vatican from the US president as of Wednesday evening.
Senior Vatican officials have made it clear that a request from the Trump administration for a meeting with Pope Francis during his visit to Italy for the Group of Seven nations meeting would be granted.
Archbishop Angelo Becciu, the number three ranking Vatican official who is responsible for the general affairs of the Church, told the Italian news agency ANSA on Wednesday: “Pope Francis is always willing to receive the heads of state that ask for an audience.”
To date, 12 US presidents have met six popes at the Vatican, starting with Woodrow Wilson, who visited Pope Benedict XV in 1919.
Speculation has mounted in the Italian media that Mr Trump could become the 13th president to meet with a pope following the statement by White House spokesman Sean Spicer on Wednesday that the administration “will be reaching out to the Vatican to see if an audience with the Pope can be accommodated.” Mr. Spicer added, “We would be honoured to have an audience with his holiness.”
Mr Trump is scheduled to visit Italy from May 26 to 28 for the G7 summit in Taormina, Sicily, which brings together the leaders of Canada, France, Germany Italy, Japan, the UK and the US, together with European Union chiefs. Before arriving in Italy, he is due to make a stopover in Brussels for a NATO summit.