Vatican City, Oct 3, 2019 / 08:00 am
Pope Francis met with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to discuss the preservation of Christian communities in the Middle East and the promotion of religious freedom on Thursday.
According to State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus, during the Oct. 3 meeting in Vatican City, the two “reaffirmed” the commitment of the U.S and the Holy See “to advancing religious freedom around the world, and in particular, protecting Christian communities in the Middle East.”
Pompeo’s audience with the pope is part of an international trip to Italy, Vatican City, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Greece.
The meeting followed a Wednesday session between Pompeo and Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin to mark the 35th anniversary of formal diplomatic relations between the U.S. and the Holy See.
At that meeting, Pompeo and Parolin discussed Vatican aid to Venezuela, preventing human trafficking, the conflict in Syria, and promoting international religious freedom.
Pompeo also attended a symposium on Wednesday that was co-hosted by the Holy See’s Secretariat of State and the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See.
At the symposium on “Pathways to Achieving Human Dignity: Partnering with Faith-Based Organizations,” Pompeo condemned human rights abuses committed by leaders in China, Iran, Syria, Burma, and elsewhere.
“When the state rules absolutely, moral norms are crushed completely,” he said. “We must recognize the roots of religious repression. Authoritarian regimes and autocrats will never accept a power higher than their own. And that causes all sorts of assaults on human dignity.”