Donald Trump & Catholicism: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

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Donald Trump in the Oval Office on May 18th, 2017. (Getty)

President Donald Trump on Wednesday will visit Vatican City and meet with Pope Francis.

This comes as part of Trump’s first foreign trip as president, which has already taken him to Saudi Arabia and Israel. In addition to meeting with Pope Francis, Trump on Wednesday will also meet with the Vatican secretary of state and tour St. Peter’s Basilica.

So ahead of this Wednesday visit, what has been Donald Trump’s relationship with the Catholic church? Here’s what you need to know.

1. Trump Himself is a Presbyterian

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Donald Trump at the Coast Guard Academy’s commencement ceremony. (Getty)

Donald Trump himself is Christian, but he is not Catholic. Instead, Donald Trump identifies as a Presbyterian.

Growing up, Trump and his family attended the Marble Collegiate Church in Manhattan, one of the oldest Protestant congregations in North America. This remained Trump’s church as he grew up, and this is where he was married to his first wife, Ivana, according to The Huffington Post.

“People are so shocked when they find…out I am Protestant,” Trump said in 2015, according to CNN. “I am Presbyterian. And I go to church and I love God and I love my church.”

Eight other U.S. presidents have been Presbyterians: Ronald Reagan, Dwight Eisenhower, Woodrow Wilson, Benjamin Harrison, Grover Cleveland, James Buchanan, James Polk, and Andrew Jackson.

There has still only been one Catholic president: John F. Kennedy, and during the election of 1960, this was a major issue in the campaign, with Kennedy’s opponents saying that he would not be loyal to the United States but instead to the Vatican.

2. Trump Engaged in a Feud with the Pope During the Campaign

Pope Francis celebrates mass at the World Meeting of Families on September 27, 2015 n Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Getty)

During the 2016 election, Donald Trump had a bit of a spat with Pope Francis. In February 2016, the pope said that building walls is not Christian, clearly a reference to Donald Trump’s plan to build a wall along the southern border of the United States and make Mexico pay for it.

“A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian,” Pope Francis said, according to CNN. “This is not the gospel.”

Trump immediately released a statement saying that the pope’s comments were disgraceful.

“No leader, especially a religious leader, should have the right to question another man’s religion or faith,” Trump said in a statement.

Trump went on to say that if ISIS attacks the Vatican, the pope should want Donald Trump to be president.

“If and when the Vatican is attacked by ISIS, which as everyone knows is ISIS’s ultimate trophy, I can promise you that the Pope would have only wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have been president,” Trump said in the statement.

The pope made some comments in early November 2016 that also seemed to be a direct critique of Donald Trump.

“No tyranny finds support without tapping into our fears,” Pope Francis said, according to CNN. “This is key. Hence, all tyranny is terrorist. And when this terror — which was sown in the peripheries, with the massacres, looting, oppression and injustice — explodes in centers with different forms of violence, even hateful and cowardly attacks, citizens who still retain some rights are tempted to the false security of physical or social walls.”

And in February, not long after President Trump signed his travel ban executive order, the pope again made a statement that could be interpreted as being anti-Trump, although he did not mention Trump by name.

“In the social and civil context as well, I appeal not to create walls, but to build bridges,” Pope Francis said, according to The Hill.

3. Trump Says He Doesn’t Ask God For His Forgiveness

Donald Trump speaks during the Arabic Islamic American Summit at the King Abdulaziz Conference Center in Riyadh on May 21, 2017. (Getty)

One major part of the Catholic faith is the idea that we are all sinners and must ask for God’s forgiveness. Trump does not feel this way, and he says that he does not feel like he must be forgiven by God for anything.

“I am not sure I have [asked God for forgiveness],” Trump said in 2015, according to CNN. ” I just go on and try to do a better job from there. I don’t think so. I think if I do something wrong, I think, I just try and make it right. I don’t bring God into that picture. I don’t.”

However, Trump said that he does participate in the sacrament of communion.

“When I drink my little wine — which is about the only wine I drink — and have my little cracker, I guess that is a form of asking for forgiveness, and I do that as often as possible because I feel cleansed,” he said. “I think in terms of ‘let’s go on and let’s make it right.'”

On the campaign trail, Donald Trump said that the Bible is his favorite book of all time, with the second favorite being his own The Art of the Deal, according to Real Clear Politics.

During a speech at Liberty University in 2016, Trump famously referred to “Two Corinthians” as “Second Corinthians,” which caused the audience in the room to laugh and immediately drew attention on social media.

4. Trump Recently Named Callista Gingrich Ambassador to the Vatican

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Callista Gingrich speaks at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference (Getty).

President Donald Trump recently announced that Callista Gingrich will be his ambassador to the Vatican.

Callista Gingrich, the wife of Newt Gingrich, is known for being a lifelong Catholic, and she was responsible for converting her husband to the faith; Newt Gingrich was raised as a Lutheran but converted to Catholicism later in life.

“I have always been a very spiritual person,” Callista Gingrich said in 2011, according to NPR. “I start each day with a prayer, and pray throughout the day, because I am grateful for the many blessings that God has bestowed upon us.”

Gingrich is also the CEO of Gingrich Productions, a production company that produces documentaries, some of which are about religion, such as Rediscovering God in America. 

5. He Won the Catholic Vote

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Donald Trump speaks during a rally at the AeroMod International hangar. (Getty)

In the 2016 election, the majority of Catholics in the United States voted for Donald Trump.

According to Pew Research, 52 percent of Catholics voted for Donald Trump, while 45 percent voted for Hillary Clinton. Among white Catholics in particular, Trump won 60 percent of the vote to Hillary Clinton’s 37 percent.

This did not match with what pre-election polling had suggested. One ABC News/Washington Post poll from August 2016 showed Clinton winning 61 percent of the Catholic vote and Trump winning just 34 percent of it.

It’s not the case that the Catholic vote will just automatically go to the Republican candidate, as Barack Obama won the majority of the Catholic vote in 2008 and 2012. In 2008, Obama won 54 percent of the Catholic vote, and in 2012, he won 50 percent of it. In 2004, George W. Bush won 52 percent of the Catholic vote, but in 2000, Al Gore won 50 percent of the Catholic vote and George W. Bush won 47 percent of it.

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