Pope declined to meet with Pompeo
The pope declined to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on his visit to the Vatican this week, claiming that a meeting before Election Day would be inappropriate.
Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s second-ranking official, told reporters, “Pompeo asked to meet” the pope, but was turned down because Pope Francis “clearly said that he does not receive political figures ahead of the elections,” The New York Times reported.
The rejection for Pompeo to meet the pontiff comes after the secretary of state wrote in conservative magazine First Things earlier this month that the Vatican compromised its moral authority by signing a 2018 accord with China.
The accord – which expired this year but is in talks for renewal – allowed Beijing to have input concerning the nomination of bishops.
Parolin said Pompeo’s article was a “surprise” because the already planned visit to meet high officials at the Holy See would have been a “more opportune” forum for discussing disagreements over international accords.
He also took issue with Pompeo’s choice to publish in First Things since the conservative Christian magazine previously called Francis a failure as a pope.
“We know that the interpretation doesn’t only come from the text, but also from the context,” he added. “The venue already says something about the intention of those who wrote this article.”
Parolin said there is no evidence Pompeo’s article and visit were meant to aid President Trump’s re-election, but said “it is a thought that can be made.”
Pompeo dismissed any assertion that his visit was for electoral pursuits, saying, “That’s just crazy.”
“We’ve been working on human rights in China the entire time I’ve been part of this administration,” he added.
Massimo Faggioli, a professor of theology and religious studies at Villanova University, told the Times he believes Pompeo’s visit was prompted by electoral motivations.
“It’s an appeal to an electorate that is bigger than the Catholic vote, it’s also the evangelical vote,” Faggioli said.
When asked by reporters why pontiff did not see him on his visit, Pompeo said, “He’s a busy man.”
Pompeo added that it’s been made clear he will be able to meet with Pope Francis on his next trip, according to the U.S. Department of State.
“It was a lovely meeting that he and I had almost exactly a year ago now,” he added. “Hope that I get a chance to meet him again before too long.”
Updated: 8:56 p.m.
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