Pope has refused to receive United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for an audience. According to a top executive within the Vatican, the prelate would not want to be put to the cart of US President Donald Trump, who is hoping for a second term in November. “He doesn’t want to be used just before the elections,” said Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the Vatican’s foreign minister.
The Vatican has accused Pompeo of wanting to drag the Catholic Church into the US presidential election. Pompeo earlier this month disapproved of the Vatican’s relationship with China.
According to the US Secretary of State, the Church is endangering its “moral authority” by renewing an agreement with China on bishops’ appointments. The agreement gives the Pope a say in this, after a long period of chasing Chinese Catholics who recognized the Pope into clandestinity.
Pompeo was in Rome on Wednesday and reiterated his charge that China is not taking religious freedom too closely during an event held by the US embassy in the Vatican. The Pope was invited to do so but sent his cat. And Pompeo’s request for an audience also fell on deaf ears.
“Yes, he asked,” said Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s foreign minister. “But the Pope has already made it clear that political representatives are not received in election periods.”
According to Parolin, Pompeo’s criticism can be used politically in the US. “Some have interpreted it that way. I have no proof, but that is certainly a possibility.”
President Trump has turned his tough stance on China into a campaign theme. He also counts members of many conservative Catholic and Protestant movements among his constituents, members who have also been critical of the Pope.