NEW YORK — President Donald Trump sent his congratulations to Pope Francis on the 7th anniversary of his election as pontiff.

“On behalf of the American people, I am honored to congratulate you upon the seventh anniversary of your election to the Chair of Saint Peter,” he wrote in a letter dated March 13.

“Since 1984, the United States and the Holy See have worked together to advance peace, freedom, and human dignity around the world. I look forward to our continued cooperation,” he continued. “Please accept my prayers and best wishes as you begin the eighth year of your pontificate.”

Francis and Trump met in May 2017 when the president was in Rome during a trip to Italy.

As Francis began the eighth year of his papacy, top U.S. diplomats also sent other congratulatory notes.

“The United States and the Holy See have enjoyed many years of friendship and close cooperation in advancing human dignity around the world,” wrote U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. “I look forward to continuing our vital partnership to promote democracy, freedom, and human rights across the globe.”

Pompeo, an evangelical Christian, met privately with Francis last October during an official visit to Italy.

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Callista Gingrich, U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See also wrote to Francis saying, “Your transformational leadership and faithful ministry continue to inspire millions of Americans.”

“Over the years, the United States and the Holy See have worked together to address global challenges and to assist those most in need,” she added. “It is an honor and privilege to work with you and your colleagues at the Holy See to continue this great legacy.”

While some 150,000 pilgrims filled St. Peter’s Square seven years ago on the occasion of Francis’ election, Francis enters his eighth year with a much quieter scene in Rome as Italy has nearly grinded to a halt due to the global pandemic resulting from the Covid-19 virus.

St. Peter’s Square and the basilica are currently closed to tourists, and public Masses have been suspended in Italy. In the United States, a growing number of Catholic dioceses have either cancelled weekend Masses or offered a dispensation in order contain the spread of the virus.

Follow Christopher White on Twitter: @cwwhite212 

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