ROME – Pope Francis has rejected the request of Mike Pompeo, secretary of state for the audience during a meeting, according to senior Mike Vatican officials, over fears the Catholic Church could drag the US presidential election into the political fray.
Pietro Parolin, the cardinal’s secretary, told a press conference on Wednesday, “Yes, they asked. But the Pope had already clearly stated that political celebrities are not received at the time of the election. That’s why” the chief of Italy Secretary of the news agency ANSA.
The Pope refrains from meeting politicians before elections, while Pompeo has also come under pressure from Pompeo to stop human rights abuses in China.
However, the Vatican confirmed that its senior diplomatic officials had “unarmed and amicable” discussions with Pompeo on Thursday, with both sides holding “their respective positions about the relationship with the Republic of China”.
Pompeo, which traces its descent to Italy, is in the country as part of an extensive European tour, including Greece and Croatia.
Come as increasing tension with the Vatican Pompeo urges Catholic Church Using his “moral authority” and “ability to influence” to condemn China’s record on religious freedom.
The State Department did not directly respond to the Vatican’s comments.
During a speech in Rome on Wednesday, Pompeo singled out China, saying that the Chinese Communist Party “works day and night to smell the lamp of freedom, especially religious freedom, on a terrible scale.”
China has previously faced fierce international criticisms, including the United States, for its treatment of predominantly Muslim minority Uyghur groups living in the northwestern Xinjiang region – which they say are largely under house arrest and oppressive against their religion Let’s face the measures.
Beijing has repeatedly denied mistreatment of Uygars and insisted that its steps have been taken to counter terrorism.
Pompeo’s remarks come to the Holy See at the end of a two-year agreement with Beijing that tells the pope something on the appointment of Chinese Catholic bishops. It is scheduled to expire next month, but is expected to be largely renewed.
Vatican officials say the agreement with China is not true, but take it a step further, decades later that Chinese popolics who recognize the pope were underground.
A vocal critic of China, Pompeo did not directly address the Vatican agreement with Beijing in his speech, but urged the church not to discourage “worldly views”. He also cited examples of churches and pilgrimages in China being “desecrated and destroyed”.
China has consistently rejected allegations that it suppresses religious freedom.
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Pompeo’s public criticism of the Vatican includes an op-ed and a series before his visit Tweet Vatican officials said that while warning that “the Vatican endangers its moral authority, should it renew the deal”.
Vatican Foreign Minister Archbishop Paul Gallagher told reporters, “When you prepare these visits among high level officials, you talk on the agenda for what you are going to talk about privately, confidentially.” Huh.” He spoke with Paroline.
President Donald Trump has taken a tight line towards China on issues of trade, Hong Kong and coronovirus, and the country has become part of a center of debate in the run-up to the November 3 presidential election.
Trump is also strongly associated with conservative Protestant and Catholic movements, many of which are important on issues ranging from Pope Francis’s immigration to climate change.
Claudio Lavanga and Abigail Williams from Rome reported; Adela Suleiman reported from London.
Reuters contributed to this report.