- The Washington Times - Friday, January 24, 2020

Vice President Mike Pence greeted Pope Francis in Rome on Thursday to offer well-wishes from President Trump and exchange gifts.

“I wanted to extend the warmest greetings on behalf of President Donald Trump, who so enjoyed his visit here,” Mr. Pence told the pontiff in the papal library. “And he wanted me to send his regards.”

Mr. Trump is scheduled to speak at the March for Life in Washington, an annual protest against abortion, on Friday.

The White House said Mr. Pence and the pope discussed the march, the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela and displaced religious minorities in the Middle East.

Mr. Pence, who was raised Catholic, gave the pope a crucifix made of wood from a tree near the vice presidential residence.

Pope Francis handed Mr. Pence some documents — it’s unclear what they were — and little gifts, including a small medal that Mr. Pence will give to his mother.

“You’ve made me a hero,” Mr. Pence told the pope.

The vice president is scheduled to meet Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Premier Giuseppe Conte while in Rome.

Mr. Pence is visiting as part of a two-leg trip that started in Israel. He departed Tel Aviv and touched down early Friday at Rome’s Ciampino International Airport, where he was greeted by Italian dignitaries; Callista Gingrich, the U.S. ambassador to the Holy See; and her husband, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Mr. Pence’s motorcade zipped through the gates of Vatican City, where a throng of tourists were gathered and taped the arrival with their cameras. His entourage swept through marbled hallways and staircases lined with artwork and Swiss Guards before reaching the library.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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