Pope Francis Refused To Meet With Mike Pompeo So As Not To Boost Trump
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo planned to sit down with Pope Francis during his weeklong trip overseas, but the pope refused to meet with him, according to Vox.
[T]he Catholic leader refused the photo ops and handshakes with America’s top diplomat out of one major concern: That he’d be a pawn in Trump’s reelection efforts.
“Yes, that is precisely why the pope will not meet American secretary of state Mike Pompeo,” Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the Vatican’s secretary for relations with states, told Italian news agency Ansa on Wednesday.
- Vox noted that Pompeo met with the pope in person in October, even as Trump’s impeachment was underway, “but the papal stiff-arming underscored two key changes.”
First, Pompeo wanted to criticize the Vatican’s still-secret deal with China, agreed to two years ago, so instead he used a speech in Rome on Wednesday to make his points publicly.
“Nowhere is religious freedom under assault more than in China,” Pompeo said during a conference on religious freedom hosted by the US embassy to the Holy See, clearly directing his comments at Pope Francis. “We must support those demanding freedom in our time.”
Second, the 2020 US presidential election is just over a month away, and pictures of Pompeo and His Holiness smiling and chuckling could conceivably alter some Americans’ views on the current administration. Pope Francis, it seems, didn’t want to run that risk.
The pope’s refusal to meet with Pompeo follows the secretary of state filming a short video while traveling in Israel in his official capacity to be shown during the Republican National Convention in support of Trump.
His decision shattered years of precedent in which sitting Cabinet members, and especially high-profile ones like secretaries of state, don’t engage in openly political and partisan activities. It was a norm Pompeo’s predecessors — in both Republican and Democratic administrations — believed was important to uphold.
- Pompeo also spoke at a Baptist church in Texas earlier this month, where he discussed the role of faith while serving in the government.
“We need to return to the founders’ central understandings about faith and how this Judeo-Christian nation is central to the world, and we must stand with it and we can’t let anybody try and rewrite history to suggest otherwise,” he told the audience. “It is an absolute imperative that we stand on these traditions and continue to build them up. It’s for our kids and for our grandkids. It’s absolutely imperative.”
- “These aren’t normal comments for a secretary of state — the nation’s top diplomat — to make, or normal forums for him to make them in,” Vox observed.