Charles Collins: The lowest point in U.S.-Vatican relations will be hard to beat

(Crux) When a United States president seen as an arch-conservative meets a pope seen as a darling of the left, people could be forgiven for wondering if U.S.-Vatican relations are on their way to a new low point.

Will Donald Trump and Pope Francis even be able to find any sort of common ground? (Hint: Yes.)

But even if Trump storms out of the Apostolic Palace with a scowl on his face and Francis refuses the traditional exchange of gifts, it will be nowhere near the lowest point in the relationship.

For that, you would need a civil war, a presidential assassination, as well as complete incomprehension of the other’s worldview: You would have to go back over 150 years, during the reign of Pope Pius IX.

Pius, like Francis, began his pontifical career as a reformer, although the Vatican was a hugely different affair at the time. The pope was still an absolute monarch in his domain, but instead of ruling 110 acres with a population measured in the hundreds, Pius ruled the Papal States, which stretched through central Italy and had a population of over 3 million, ranging from south of Rome to Bologna in the north. [More]