National Post (Latest Edition)

POPE REFUSES VISIT BY POMPEO

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The Vatican said on Wednesday it had denied a request from Mike Pompeo for an audience with Pope Francis, and accused the U.S. Secretary of State of trying to drag the Catholic Church into the presidenti­al election by denouncing its relations with China.

The extraordin­ary remarks from the two top diplomatic officials at the Vatican came after Pompeo accused the Church in an article and a series of tweets this month of putting its “moral authority” at risk by renewing an agreement with China over the appointmen­t of bishops.

Pompeo, who was in Rome on Wednesday and due to meet Vatican officials on Thursday, repeated his denunciati­ons of China’s record on religious freedom at an event hosted by the U. S. embassy to the Holy See.

The Vatican’s two top diplomats, Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and Foreign Minister Archbishop Paul Gallagher, said Francis had declined a request from Pompeo for an audience, as the Pope avoids meeting politician­s ahead of elections.

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