Trump offers condolences to Pope following Notre Dame fire

Offered help with reconstruction

By Betsy Klein, CNN
Getty Images

President Donald Trump talks to reporters as he leaves the White House on April 5, 2019, in Washington, D.C. Trump is traveling to Southern California to visit the U.S.-Mexico border and to Beverly Hills for a fundraiser.

(CNN) - President Donald Trump said he spoke with Pope Francis Wednesday, offering his condolences and the advice of US experts on renovation following the devastating fire at Paris' Notre Dame Cathedral.

"Just had a wonderful conversation with @Pontifex Francis offering condolences from the People of the United States for the horrible and destructive fire at Notre Dame Cathedral," Trump tweeted.

"I offered the help of our great experts on renovation and construction as I did in my conversation yesterday with President @EmmanuelMacron of France. I also wished both Pope Francis and President Macron a very Happy Easter!" Trump added.

Trump, who built a real estate empire and has experience in the construction business, previously offered his expertise as the flames raged Monday, tweeting: "Perhaps flying water tankers could be used to put it out. Must act quickly!"

But the French Civil Security Agency responded that Trump's advice was ill-advised.

"The drop of water by air on this type of building could indeed result in the collapse of the entire structure," the agency tweeted.

The conversation between the US President and the leader of the Catholic Church comes weeks after Pope Francis took an apparent shot at Trump and his efforts to build a wall on the US-Mexico border.

"Those who build walls will become prisoners of the walls they put up," the Pope told reporters recently. "This is history."

He made similar remarks to a crowd of thousands of youth in Panama City in January.

"This is the criteria to divide people: The builders of bridges and the builders of walls, those builders of walls sow fear and look to divide people," he said then.

The two also traded jabs on the border wall during the 2016 Republican primary.

"A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian," Francis said in a veiled reference to Trump in 2016. "This is not the Gospel."

Trump immediately fired back, calling Francis' comments "disgraceful" in a statement.

"No leader, especially a religious leader, should have the right to question another man's religion or faith. They are using the Pope as a pawn and they should be ashamed of themselves for doing so, especially when so many lives are involved and when illegal immigration is so rampant," the statement said.

But they appeared to mend fences; Trump met the Pope during a trip to the Vatican in May 2017, a cordial visit Trump described as the "honor of a lifetime."

CNN's Rosa Flores contributed to this report.

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