Vatican Tells Pompeo He Can't Meet Pope

He met some of the pontiff's critics instead
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 1, 2020 4:51 AM CDT
Pope Francis Turns Down Meeting With Pompeo
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US Ambassador to the Holy See Callista Gingrich greet Cardinal Raymond Burke as they attend the "Advancing and Defending International Religious Freedom Through Diplomacy" symposium, in Rome, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020.   (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was denied an audience with Pope Francis during his visit to the Vatican this week—but he was welcomed by the pontiff's critics. Vatican officials said it is normal for the pope not to meet political figures during election periods, though they also expressed concern about Pompeo's demand for the church to end its deal with China on the appointment of bishops, Fox reports. In September, Pompeo wrote an op-ed in conservative Christian magazine First Things urging the Vatican not to renew the deal because of Beijing's human rights abuses. "The Vatican endangers its moral authority, should it renew the deal," Pompeo wrote in a tweet sharing the article.

Francis is not popular with conservative American Catholics, and top Vatican diplomats including Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican's secretary of state, suggested Pompeo was grandstanding to influence US voters, the BBC reports. "Some have interpreted it this way—that the comments were above all for domestic political use," Parolin said. "I don't have proof of this but certainly this is one way of looking at it." Pompeo, who will meet Parolin Thursday, met church figures opposed to Francis Wednesday and attended an event on religious freedom organized by Calista Gingrich, the American ambassador to the Vatican, the New York Times reports. Attendees included Cardinal Raymond Burke, who said in 2004 that he would deny communion to John Kerry. (More Vatican stories.)

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