U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo slammed what he called China's "repressive" regime on Wednesday, as Vatican officials accuse him of trying to drag the Catholic Church into the U.S. presidential election. Caroline Malone reports.
- The Vatican said Wednesday it had denied US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo an audience with Pope Francis and accused him of trying to drag the Catholic church into the US presidential election after he denounced its relations with China. Two top Vatican diplomatic officials made the extraordinary remarks as Pompeo was in Rome, ahead of a planned trip to meet members at the Vatican Thursday.
Pompeo said in an article and series of tweets earlier this month that the Vatican is putting its, quote, "moral authority at risk" by renewing an agreement with China over appointing bishops. On Wednesday, he slammed what he called Beijing's repression of freedoms, especially of Uighurs in Xinjiang, Tibetan Buddhists, and Catholic lay leaders in the human rights movement in Hong Kong.
MIKE POMPEO: Nowhere is religious freedom under assault more than it is inside of China today. That's because, as with all communist regimes, the Chinese Communist Party deems itself the ultimate moral authority. An increasingly repressive CCP, frightened by its own lack of democratic legitimacy, works day and night to snuff out the lamp of freedom, especially religious freedom, on a horrifying scale.
- The Vatican has a two-year agreement with Beijing that gives the pope some say over the appointment of Chinese bishops, which is expected to be renewed next month. Holy See officials see it as progress after decades in which Chinese catholics were driven underground. Officially, the Vatican said pope Francis had declined a request from Pompeo for an audience as the pope avoids meeting politicians ahead of elections.