U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his Vatican counterparts discussed their “respective positions” on relations with China in a “respectful, relaxed and cordial atmosphere,” the Vatican said today.
In a short statement responding to reporters’ questions, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said other areas of “conflict and crisis” were also discussed in 45-minutes of talks at the Vatican with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, and Archbishop Paul Gallagher, secretary for Relations With States.
Topics also included the “Caucasus, the Middle East and the Eastern Mediterranean,” Bruni added. The U.S. State Department did not release a statement on the meeting.
The talks took place amid a diplomatic clash between the U.S. government and the Holy See over differing visions on how to approach an increasingly oppressive communist regime in the People’s Republic of China, which has stepped up its persecution of Catholics and followers of other religions.
Pompeo, who had a private audience with Pope Francis last year, was denied a meeting with the Holy Father today because it would be seen as influencing the upcoming November U.S. presidential election, Cardinal Parolin told reporters on Wednesday.
“Yes he asked,” Cardinal Parolin said, “but the Pope had already said clearly that political figures are not received in election periods. That is the reason.”
But chances of a meeting appear to have lessened due to a recent op-ed Pompeo wrote in First Things, openly urging the Vatican not to renew a much-debated 2018 accord with Beijing on the appointment of bishops.
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