Vatican accuses Pompeo of playing politics, Pope Francies refuses to meet him

WION Web Team NEW DELHI Oct 01, 2020, 08.18 AM(IST)

Pompeo takes on Vatican Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

The Vatican accused Pompeo of trying to use that issue to attract voters in November`s US presidential election.

The Vatican has denied US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s request to meet with Pope Francis during his visit to Rome this week.

Also read | 'Vatican endangers its moral authority': Pompeo on deal with China

The Vatican accused Pompeo of trying to use that issue to attract voters in November`s US presidential election.

“Yes, he asked. But the pope had already said clearly that political figures are not received in election periods. That is the reason,” Vatican diplomat Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said, according to Reuters Wednesday.

Also read: 'Vatican endangers its moral authority': Pompeo on deal with China

Earlier this week, during a visit to Rome, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday said that the Vatican must find the “courage” to confront China.

Pompeo, who was in Rome on Wednesday and due to meet Vatican officials on Thursday, repeated his denunciations of China`s record on religious freedom at an event hosted by the U.S. embassy to the Holy See.

The Vatican's two top diplomats, Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and Foreign Minister Archbishop Paul Gallagher, said Francis had declined a request from Pompeo for an audience, as the pope avoids meeting politicians ahead of elections.

The Vatican`s two-year-old agreement with Beijing gives the pope some say over the appointment of Chinese bishops. It was due to expire next month, but is expected to be renewed.

Officials in the Holy See say the agreement is not perfect but call it a step forward, after decades during which Chinese Catholics who recognise the pope were driven underground.

Parolin and Gallagher both described Pompeo's public criticism as a "surprise", coming just before his planned visit.

"Normally when you`re preparing these visits between high-level officials, you negotiate the agenda for what you are going to talk about privately, confidentially. It`s one of the rules of diplomacy," Gallagher said.

(With inputs from agencies)

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