File under: Huh?
O’Reilly, who’s facing a sexual harassment scandal, is on vacation in Italy as his employer, Fox News, decides whether or not to pull the plug on his top-rated nightly program.
A photographer for L’Osservatore Romano, the official Vatican newspaper, caught O’Reilly in St. Peter Square’s VIP section shaking hands with Francis.
While the weekly audience is open to the public, the Times notes that the special section beside the stage, where O’Reilly sat, can be entered only with special tickets distributed by the prefecture of the papal household.
The meeting with the pope happened as the Murdoch family plans to meet on Thursday to decide O’Reilly’s fate, though according to several reports the family is leaning towards ending his show.
On Tuesday, a new accuser came forward claiming she was harassed by the TV host. The Times reported earlier this month that O’Reilly and Fox News ponied up $13 million in settlement payments to five female accusers.
It’s unclear whether the pope was aware of who O’Reilly was. Wednesday’s brief meeting with O’Reilly echoed the pope’s 2015 meeting with Kim Davis, a county clerk in Kentucky who made national headlines after refusing to sign same-sex marriage licenses.
O’Reilly has been critical of Pope Francis in the past. Most recently last year, after Francis, clearly referring to then-candidate Donald Trump, said a that a man who builds walls instead of bridges is “not Christian,” and later that, “a Christian can never say, ‘I’ll make you pay for that.'”
“I would suggest to Pope Francis that millions of Americans have been harmed economically by our immigration system, which desperately needs reform,” O’Reilly responded. “I think I could persuade the pope that providing protection and enforcing settled law is certainly not un-Christian.”
Here is Bill O’Reilly literally meeting with Pope Francis this morning pic.twitter.com/SlNMqAnsKn
— Michael M. Grynbaum (@grynbaum) April 19, 2017