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Pompeo’s Anti-China Diatribe at Rome Symposium Doesn’t Go Far with the Vatican

Sept. 30, 2020 (EIRNS)—An enraptured Mike Pompeo spoke today at the symposium in Rome sponsored by the U.S. Embassy and the Holy See, entitled “Advancing and Defending Religious Freedom Through Diplomacy,” whose purpose, according to the State Department is to highlight the plight of “persecuted religious minorities” particularly in China and the Middle East.

Prior to speaking at today’s event, Pompeo made known publicly that he opposes the Vatican’s intention to renew the provisional agreement it signed with China in 2018, on grounds that the Chinese government and the Communist Party (CCP) are hideously persecuting religious minorities in China—Catholics included. It was notable that Pope Francis did not receive Pompeo for a personal meeting as he did a year ago, and several Vatican officials have indicated Pompeo’s attacks on the Vatican’s relations with China are unwelcome.

In his ten-minute speech today, he stopped short of directly mentioning the Vatican’s 2018 agreement, but got his message across anyway with his usual vitriol. He said:

“Nowhere is religious freedom under assault more than it is inside of China today.... The Chinese Communist Party has battered every religious community in China: Protestant house churches, Tibetan Buddhists, Falun Gong devotees, and more. 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.”

Pompeo tried to motivate the Pope to act against China by recalling Pope John Paul II’s role in helping to accelerate an end to communist regimes in Europe, and expressed the hope that “the Church would be so bold in our time.” Pope Francis, he said, has exhorted the Church to be “permanently in a state of mission. To be a Church ‘permanently in a state of mission’ has many meanings. Surely, one of them is to be a Church permanently in defense of basic human rights.” Earlier this month, on Sept. 19, in an article in the right-wing Catholic publication First Things, Pompeo baldly attacked the Vatican’s engagement with China, asserting that

“the Holy See has a unique capacity and duty to focus the world’s attention on human rights violations, especially those perpetrated by totalitarian regimes like Beijing’s. What the church teaches the world about religious freedom and solidarity should now be forcefully and persistently conveyed by the Vatican in the face of the Chinese Communist Party’s relentless efforts to bend all religious communities to the will of the party and its totalitarian program.”

Other speakers at today’s event included Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and his deputy Bishop Paul Gallagher, Vatican Secretary for Relations with States, neither of whom mentioned China. Gallagher later told journalists that he didn’t mention China because “we don’t name and blame; it’s one of the principles of Vatican diplomacy, normally.” Pompeo’s speech is posted to the State Department website.

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