WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- During U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s Vatican visit this week, Pope Francis turned down his request for a meeting, saying meetings with political figures are ill-suited before the elections.
- The rejection comes following an article by Pompeo in a conservative Christian magazine criticizing the Vatican for signing a deal with China in 2018 that includes having a say on the nomination of bishops.
- A Vatican high ranking official also regarded Pompeo’s visit as a venue for tackling disagreements over international agreements.
The pope refused to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo this week during his visit to the Vatican, saying a meeting before the November elections would be improper.
According to reports from The New York Times, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s second-ranking official, told reporters that Pompeo’s request to meet the pontiff was declined because Pope Francis said that he “does not receive political figures ahead of the elections.”
The refusal comes after Pompeo wrote an article in a conservative Christian magazine First Things earlier this month about the Vatican compromising its moral authority by signing a 2018 agreement with China that allows them to have an opinion on the nomination of bishops.
Parolin said Pompeo’s article was unexpected because the prearranged visit with Vatican high officials would have been the best time to discuss disputes over international pacts.
He also criticized Pompeo’s move to publish in First Things since Pope Francis was previously deemed a failure as a pope by the magazine.
“We know that the interpretation doesn’t only come from the text, but also from the context. The venue already says something about the intention of those who wrote this article,” Parolin said.
He added that although there is no proof that Pompeo’s article and visit were intended to boost Trump’s re-election, “it is a thought that can be made,” he said.
Pompeo, however, denied that the purpose of his visit was to aid electoral pursuits.
“That’s just crazy. We’ve been working on human rights in China the entire time I’ve been part of this administration,” he said.
Meanwhile, Massimo Faggioli, a theology professor at Villanova University, contends that Pompeo’s visit was brought on by electoral motivations.
“It’s an appeal to an electorate that is bigger than the Catholic vote, it’s also the evangelical vote,” Faggioli told the Times.
Regarding his canceled visit, Pompeo told reporters that Pope Francis is a busy man.
“It was a lovely meeting that he and I had almost exactly a year ago now. Hope that I get a chance to meet him again before too long,” he added.
Source: The Hill