The Vatican has rejected US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s request for an audience with Pope Francis. The Vatican believes that the American authorities want to involve the Catholic Church in the election campaign. On Wednesday, September 30, reports Reuters.
Mike Pompeo arrived in Rome on September 30 and posted an article and a series of tweets last week accusing the Catholic Church of putting its “moral authority” at risk by continuing its agreement with China to appoint bishops.
Today, Pompeo reiterated his condemnation of China’s religious freedom policies at an event hosted by the US Embassy to the Holy See.
Two senior Vatican diplomats, Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and Foreign Minister Archbishop Paul Gallagher said Pope Francis had turned down Pompeo’s request for an audience because the Pope avoids meeting with politicians ahead of the election.
“Yes, he asked. But the Pope has already made it clear that politicians are not accepted during the election period. This is the reason,” Parolin said.
The Vatican’s agreement with Beijing, concluded two years ago, gives the Pope the right to vote in the appointment of Chinese bishops. It expires next month but is expected to be extended.
Officials at the Vatican say the agreement is imperfect, but they describe it as a step forward after decades in which Chinese Catholics who recognize the Pope have been driven underground.
Parolin and Gallagher described Pompeo’s public criticism as a “surprise” that came shortly before his scheduled visit.
Earlier, Trump at the UN called for punishing China for the coronavirus. He accuses China of not banning international flights from its territory in the early stages of its spread, thus allowing it to “infect the world.”