Denver Newsroom, Sep 16, 2022 / 12:00 pm
Pope Francis expressed his “availability” to meet with Chinese president Xi Jinping while both men were in Kazakhstan this week, but China declined, according to a Reuters report citing an unnamed Vatican official.
Pope Francis was in Nur-Sultan, the Kazakh capital formerly known as Astana, Sept. 13–15 for an interreligious meeting, while Xi was in the same city to meet with Kazakh president Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, one day after the pope did.
According to Reuters, the source said the Vatican made “an expression of availability,” and the Chinese side said they “appreciated the gesture” but that there was no free time in Xi’s schedule.
A meeting of the two leaders would have been momentous; there has never been a meeting between a pope and a president of China. Pope Francis has said he is willing to visit China, saying on the flight from Rome to Kazakhstan on Sept. 13: “I’m always ready to go to China.”