Mike Pompeo in the Vatican “despite” China

Distances of geopolitical vision, especially on China, will not close to the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in the next few days in Rome, the doors of the Vatican, the small state with diplomatic ramifications around the world that has always been able to keep open discussions even with administrations less in tune with the Pope.

Francesco will not receive the head of the feluccas of Donald Trump, but such a meeting has never officially entered the Vatican agenda. Not only because it would be more unique than rare for a Pontiff, or rather a Head of State, to receive a “simple” foreign minister rather than a counterpart: and, in fact, despite the differences and the heated controversy that the two had had in the previous months, Jorge Mario Bergoglio did not hesitate to receive Trump during his visit to Rome in May 2017.

A hearing with a political representative would be all the more inappropriate in the weeks leading up to the crucial presidential elections across the Atlantic. The electoral challenge between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, between Republicans and Democrats, is particularly heated, the theme of the Catholic faith is brandished by both sides, the White House tenant has also shown in recent days, with the appointment to the Supreme Court of the Catholic Amy Coney Barrett, a charismatic conservative, to be able to ride the theme to win over the traditionally divided Catholic electorate: it is natural, for this as for every other Pope, to keep a safe distance from the electoral contest.

Mike Pompeo will see, however, the leaders of Vatican diplomacy, and on two different occasions. First of all, on Wednesday 30 September, the US Secretary of State will participate in a symposium entitled “Advancing and defending international religious freedom through diplomacy”. The appointment is organized by the United States Embassy to the Holy See, led by Callista Gingrich, wife of Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House of Representatives and still an important figure in the US Republican Party. Already last year, in September 2019, Pompeo had participated in a similar event, then entitled “Paths to achieve human dignity: collaborating with organizations based on faith”. This year to open the symposium together with Pompeo will be the Foreign Minister of the Holy See, the British Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, and to close the morning will be the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin. Parolin and Gallagher will then receive Pompeo in the Apostolic Palace, the next day, for an audience behind closed doors where it will be possible to further explore the issues of common interest with the stars and stripes administration.

There are many issues at stake

If in the last few hours a conflict has broken out in the Caucasus, between Azerbaijan and Armenia, which has a religious implication (the Pope received the Catholicos of the Armenian Apostolic Church on Sunday and appealed for an end to the hostilities at the Angelus prayer), another country can show a remarkable harmony between the Catholic Church and the Trump administration, Belarus. In recent days, not by chance, Pompeo expressed via Twitter his condemnation of the Belarusian authorities who prevented Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, Archbishop of Minsk, from returning to the country after a short trip to Poland.

But the convergences are as much possible as the divergences are deep and explicit. In recent days Pompeo wrote an article on the conservative Catholic site First Things to criticize the agreement between China and the Holy See on episcopal appointments that should be renewed in these days. The issue is crucial. The Holy See is well aware of the difficulties of Chinese Catholics, as well as of other religious minorities, and looks with apprehension at the authoritarian curvature in Hong Kong. But it also clears the long-term strategic value of establishing a respectful dialogue with Beijing, both for the good of the faithful of that country, and for the positioning of the Catholic Church on the world stage for decades to come. The Pope’s men are in no hurry to reconnect the diplomatic relations interrupted at the time of Mao Tse-tung, in 1951, but they have invested a lot of energy to reach, two years ago, the historic agreement, of a purely religious nature, on the appointment of bishops, which made it possible to close a schism that had been dragging on for decades between the Church recognized by the Party and that faithful to Rome.

An open dissonance, therefore, which does not necessarily imply the absence of coordination. As Francesco Sisci, a great expert on Sino-Vatican relations, as well as the one who interviewed the Pope on China in a publication that paved the way for the agreement on bishops, observed, “the Trump administration has little appeal outside the United States, and this is one of his greatest weaknesses, where his Chinese policy, which would need a global breath, could stumble and fall if he were re-elected. On the contrary, the Pope, despite all the controversies in the Vatican, is extremely strong and considered worldwide. Both could then have an interest in collaborating on China, despite the many differences, or perhaps precisely because of the differences ».

Certainly Cardinal Parolin, the great weaver of the Chinese agreement, has an articulated vision of international relations and the role of China in the world. A few days after the meeting with Pompeo, on October 3, he will be in Milan, a guest of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) to talk about China. “The origins of the spread of the Coronavirus, the geopolitical clash with Washington, the appointments of bishops: never before has China been at the center of world attention in this 2020”, reads a note. «But the risk is to talk about it, stopping at some easy slogans. Just to try to go beyond this attitude, PIME promotes the conference ‘Another China’ for the morning of Saturday 3 October ».

(with source Askanews)

Source: by www.diariodelweb.it.

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