Pope denies audience with Pompeo; Vatican warns against playing politics over China
By Philip Pullella
“THAT’S JUST CRAZY”
Asked if he believed that Pompeo’s criticisms of the Vatican deal were intended for political use in the United States, Parolin said: “Some have interpreted it this way … that the comments were above all for domestic political use. I don’t have proof of this but certainly this is one way of looking at it.”
The Vatican-China deal “is a matter that has nothing to do with American politics. This is a matter between Churches and should not be used for this type of ends,” Parolin said.
For his part, when asked at a briefing if he was “picking a fight” with the Vatican over China and what impact that could have on Catholic and other Christian voters, Pompeo replied: “That’s just crazy.”
President Donald Trump has campaigned on his hard line towards China ahead of the Nov. 3 election. He is also strongly associated with conservative Protestant and Catholic movements, many of which have been critical of Pope Francis.
In his speech on Thursday, Pompeo did not directly address the Vatican agreement with Beijing, but he described China as the world’s worst abuser of religious rights.
“Nowhere is religious freedom under assault more than in China,” Pompeo said. The Chinese Communist Party was looking to “to snuff out the lamp of freedom … on a horrifying scale”.
Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Peter Graff
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