Yesterday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US Ambassador to the Holy See Callista Gingrich met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin and Archbishop Secretary for Relations with States Paul Gallagher to discuss “China as well as several conflicts around the world.”

Responding to questions from journalists, Director of the Holy See Press Office Matteo Bruni gave some insight into the nature of their meeting:

“During this morning’s talks, the parties presented their respective positions regarding relations with the People’s Republic of China in a respectful, relaxed, and cordial atmosphere. There was also discussion of some areas of conflict and crisis, particularly the Caucasus, the Middle East, and the Eastern Mediterranean. The meeting lasted about 45 minutes.”

Pompeo didn’t meet with Pope Francis, a customary rule for the pontiff says Parolin:

“It is the custom of the Holy See, or, better said, of the pope, to not meet with politicians so close to elections. This is the reason for which the Holy Father is not meeting with him.”

The meeting took place a day after Pompeo spoke at a symposium on religious freedom in Rome as the Holy See is sending a delegation to Beijing to renew their controversial “provisional agreement.”

“Nowhere is religious freedom under assault more than it is inside of China today.”

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