First Daughter Ivanka Trump will be meeting with victims of human trafficking in Rome as part of President Donald Trump’s international trip to Europe and the Middle East.
The meeting was arranged with the Community of Sant’Egidio, a “new mission” in the Roman Catholic Church to combat human trafficking, according to the National Catholic Register, which notes that the U.S. embassy in Rome has been working with the Church on this issue.
Sant’Egido was founded in 1968 by Italian layman Andrea Richard, a historian and former minister in the Italian government to offer services to the poor, build conflict resolution, and to encourage ecumenical and inter-faith dialogue. Human trafficking is also part of its mission, according to the Catholic news site, cruxnow.com.
“The community is based in the Roman neighborhood of Trastevere and is named for the church there in which it held its initial meetings, which is called ‘St. Giles’ in English,” cruxnnow.com reported.
In addition to meeting with victims, Ivanka Trump is expected to discuss ways the United States and the Church can collaborate on this issue.
“Sant’ Egidio is a favorite of Pope Francis, who has repeatedly praised the group,” cruxnow.com reported. “At one of his first Angelus addresses on Sunday from the window of the papal apartment, Francis spotted a Sant’ Egidio banner in the crowd and said, ‘Those people from Sant’ Egidio are great!’”
But tensions between the Church and the ministry have existed, according to cruxnow.com.
Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL) served as the U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See during George W. Bush’s second term. Rooney said that when he organized a meeting for Bush with Sant’ Egidio in 2007, he ran into some pushback from the Vatican.
“There were some members of the Holy See’s foreign policy establishment that feel a rivalry with Sant’ Egidio and didn’t like it,” Rooney said in a recent interview for “The Crux of the Matter” radio show. “We had to navigate through that a little bit.”
National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster said this month President Trump’s talking points will include religious freedom, cooperating with the Church on humanitarian issues.
Meanwhile, First Lady Melania Trump will visit the Bambino Gesu children’s hospital near the Vatican, the largest pediatric hospital and research center in Europe.