(AMERICAN MILITARY NEWS) – Two officials for the Vatican announced Wednesday that Pope Francis had denied U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's request for an audience, and shared concerns Pompeo's visit would be an effort to get the Vatican to denounce China ahead of a deal between the Vatican and Beijing.
The Vatican's two top diplomats, Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and Foreign Minister Archbishop Paul Gallagher told Reuters that Pope Francis had denied the request for a meeting as part of a Vatican policy to avoid meeting politicians ahead of elections. Both officials said they were also surprised by remarks Pompeo made at an event hosted by the U.S. embassy to the Holy See, in which he denounced China's record on religious freedom ahead of Vatican plans to renew an agreement with Beijing on the selection of Chinese bishops.
Parolin, explaining the decision to deny Pompeo's meeting request, said, "Yes, [Pompeo] asked. But the pope had already said clearly that political figures are not received in election periods. That is the reason."
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