The pope declined to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on his visit to the Vatican this week, claiming that a meeting before Election Day would be inappropriate.
Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s second-ranking official, told reporters, “Pompeo asked to meet” the pope, but was turned down because Pope Francis “clearly said that he does not receive political figures ahead of the elections,” The New York Times reported.
The rejection for Pompeo to meet the pontiff comes after the secretary of state wrote in conservative magazine First Things earlier this month that the Vatican compromised its moral authority by signing a 2018 accord with China.
The accord – which expired this year but is in talks for renewal – allowed Beijing to have input concerning the nomination of bishops.
Parolin said Pompeo’s article was a “surprise” because the already planned visit to meet high officials at the Holy See would have been a “more opportune” forum for discussing disagreements over international accords.
He also took issue with Pompeo’s choice to publish in First Things since the conservative Christian magazine previously called Francis a failure as a pope.
“We know that the interpretation doesn’t only come from the text, but also from the context,” he added. “The venue already says something about the intention of those who wrote this article.”
Parolin said there is no evidence Pompeo’s article and visit were meant to aid President Trump’s re-election, but said “it is a thought that can be made.”
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