Pope won’t meet U.S. Secretary of State

The Vatican foreign minister, Archbishop Paul Gallagher says US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to the Holy See did not include an audience with Pope Francis.

Pompeo (pictured) has been openly critical of the Vatican’s relationship with China.

Last month he published an essay in First Things suggesting the Vatican had compromised its moral authority by signing the 2018 accord with Beijing.

Gallagher said the article Pompeo wrote about Vatican-China relations was received “critically” at the Vatican.

“It was received critically [by the Holy See],” he said.

The US Secretary of State renewed his comments about Vatican-China relations when he was in Rome last week for a conference on religious freedom. The conference had been organized by the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See.

At the conference, Pompeo urged the Vatican to join the U.S. in denouncing violations of religious freedom in China.

The Catholic Church should be at the forefront in the fight to insist on basic human rights there, he said.

“Nowhere is religious freedom under assault more than it is inside of China today.

“The United States can and does play its part in speaking up for those oppressed, although we too can do more. … But for all that nation-states can do, ultimately, our efforts are constrained by the realities of world politics. …

“The Church is in a different position. Earthly considerations shouldn’t discourage principled stances based on eternal truths. And as history shows, Catholics have often deployed their principles in glorious, glorious service of human dignity.”

Citing St. John Paul II, Pope emeritus Benedict XVI and Francis, Pompeo urged a greater commitment from faith leaders to stand up for all religious believers.

“To be a church ‘permanently in a state of mission’ has many meanings,” Pompeo said, quoting Francis.

“Surely one of them is to be a church permanently in defence of basic human rights.”

Pompeo’s appeal coincided with the Vatican’s delicate negotiations with Beijing on extending its agreement over which Chinese clergy should be nominated as bishops.

They also coincided with a planned meeting with his opposite number at the Vatican, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who was also at the conference.

The two Secretaries were scheduled to discuss the renewal of the Holy See’s provisional accord with China.

At the conference, Parolin said he was “surprised” Pompeo had chosen to publish his article on the Holy See’s provisional accord with China before his visit.

“We have known for a long time the position of the Trump administration and that of Secretary Pompeo on this subject.”

Gallagher avoided commenting about China while at the conference.

Instead, he focused on more ideological threats to religious liberty. He cited the imposition of gender ideology in the West and other types of “politically correct” legislation that are threats to the conscience of religious believers.

He said the proximity of Pompeo’s visit to the U.S. election, was “one of the reasons why the Holy Father is not receiving the secretary of state.”

Pompeo met Gallagher and Parolin at the Vatican yesterday.


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