World Pope Francis refuses to meet with Mike Pompeo ahead of 2020 election
Mike Pompeo Hits Campaign Trail for Trump in Shift for Top Diplomat
Secretary of State Michael Pompeo is ramping up his domestic appearances before overwhelmingly Republican audiences, raising criticism that he’s going on the campaign trail for President Donald Trump by taking part in events that previous top U.S. diplomats would have avoided. © POOL/AFP via Getty Images Mike Pompeo on Sept. 21. Pompeo will be in Wisconsin on Wednesday to address the Republican-controlled state legislature in a speech billed as warning of the threat that states face from China’s Communist Party.
A high-ranking Vatican official said Wednesday that Pope Francis would not meet with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during his visit to Rome, citing the proximity to thein November.
While he didn't meet Francis, Pompeo met with Vatican officials on Thursday, including Cardinal Piero Parolin, the Vatican's secretary of state, and Archbishop Richard Gallagher, the Holy See's foreign minister. The Vatican news agency reported theand both parties discussed their respective stances on China.
Pompeo accused of stumping for Trump ahead of election
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is positioning himself as a key surrogate for President Trump weeks before the election, an almost unheard-of role for the U.S.’s top diplomat but one the former Republican congressman has embraced as part of his own future political ambitions. © GETTY IMAGES Pompeo accused of stumping for Trump ahead of election Pompeo was in Wisconsin on Wednesday to address Republican lawmakers in the state legislature in a trip that was ostensibly about foreign policy. But his visit has drawn criticism for promoting the president's agenda in a key swing state just 40 days before the election.
"We are grateful for the Holy See's humanitarian efforts around the world, and we are proud to partner together to advance religious freedom and other human rights," Pompeo tweeted Thursday following his meeting with them.
But the tone was different a day earlier.
Parolin, who is the Vatican's second-ranking official, told reporters that Pompeo — who met with Francis last year — had sought a meeting with the pope, but because of policy, they did not make it happen.
"[Pompeo] asked, but the pope had already said clearly that we do not receive politicians close to elections, said Parolin.
When asked whether the meeting would be exploited by Pompeo, he said, "I have no proof to say this, but certainly it is a thought that may be made."
The remarks came as Pompeo wrote a letter in September criticizing the Vatican's plans to renew a deal with the Chinese government on the Catholic Church's operations in China. He wrote about China allegedly forcing to undergo sterilizations and abortions, and its "horrific" treatment of other religious believers.
Pompeo to headline fundraiser for Christian charity in swing-state Florida
The appearance is his latest foray into politics ahead of the election.The fundraiser, with its $10,000 tickets for "a personal visit with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo," may cross legal lines, according to ethics experts.
"What the Church teaches the world about religious freedom and solidarity should now be forcefully and persistently conveyed by the Vatican in the face of the Chinese Communist Party's relentless efforts to bend all religious communities to the will of the Party and its totalitarian program," Pompeo wrote September 18.
In response to the letter, Parolin said the letter came as a "surprise," despite being familiar with Pompeo and the Trump administration's position on the matter. He also said Pompeo already had a scheduled meeting with Vatican officials, which would have been a "more opportune occasion" to discuss.
The article was published in, a conservative religious journal that has called Francis' tenure as pope a "failure." Parolin said where it was published is also "significant."
"We know that interpretation comes not only from the text but also from the context," Parolin said. "And therefore the contest already tells you something regarding the intensions of the person who wrote and published this article."
Parolin said the meeting with China will go as scheduled for October 22.
"We all believe in religious freedom," he said. "The problem is the way to realize this path."
Following a symposium on religious freedom, Pompeo told a reporter Wednesday that the Catholic Church has the "capacity to influence and make things better for people all across the world," but did not directly respond to Parolin's comments.
Pope wears mask, warns against political exploitation of coronavirus .
Pope wears mask, warns against political exploitation of coronavirusVATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis, seen wearing a mask for the first time in public, said on Wednesday no one should seek political gain from the coronavirus and that vaccine developers should not see it as a chance to make a profit.