Conversation Starters For a President Abroad

President Trump’s first foreign trip at the end of May was announced just after he signed the Religious freedom executive order. Ironically, three places he will visit – Saudi Arabia, Israel and Rome – are major hubs for the three great religions: Islam, Judaism and Christianity.

Saudi Arabia, according to official statistics, is close to 100% Muslim, predominantly Sunni.  Israel was established as a Jewish state this week in 1948. 

Rome has been a center of Christianity since Peter and Paul journeyed there in the first century and, subsequently, the Bishop of Rome was designated the Pope. 

As Citizen Sullivan, I suggest one topic for President Trump to raise in his conversation with each foreign leader.  Keeping with his preferred modality of policy communication, the President should update us by tweeting out the leaders’ responses.  

In Saudi Arabia, he should ask about religious freedom for non-Muslims. Maybe a simple question could be: Where can I go for Sunday Christian services?

In Israel, he should ask about refugees in the Palestinian camps. He might ask to visit one.

At the Vatican, he might want to, face to face, tell the Pope how great it will be when the new Mexican-paid-for-wall is built and how the Pope is wrong on immigration and refugee matters.  

I await the tweets.

MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry on Pope Francis’ “Cracking Open the Door to Change.”

MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry on Pope Francis cracking open the door to change
While in Rome last week, I felt the enthusiasm and warmth at Pope Francis’ audience with more than 100,000 in St. Peter’s Square.  It’s both fun and instructive to hear someone “outside the fold” comment on Pope Francis’  initial  months on the job.  MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry’s take is crisp, perky and upbeat.  Listen to her report.

Rome Mission with UJA-FED of NY

Rome Mission With UJA-FED of NY

I was honored to spend Tuesday afternoon learning about the oldest Jewish community outside of Israel – the Roman Jewish community. As I walked through the Jewish Ghetto with the leadership of the UJA-FED of NY, I experienced both sadness and hope. Sadness of the tragic and sinful history of anti-semitism in which Catholics, shamefully, have played a significant part. Hope that as we come to recognize this past, we have set a new course for the future and continue to walk that course together. Over the next few days I will share more of this very important mission to Rome with, as Pope John Paul II, our elder brothers and sisters in the faith.