- By Tom Kington
Pope Francis should resist engaging with the “horrifying” Chinese government which is involved in crushing religious freedoms, Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, said during a visit to the Vatican.
Mr Pompeo issued the challenge as the Pope prepares to renew a two-year deal with Beijing on jointly appointing Catholic bishops in the country. He also scolded the Italian government over its commercial ties to Beijing.
Claiming that Beijing has crushed religious freedom on a “horrifying scale”, Mr Pompeo said Catholic shrines were being destroyed in China while images of Jesus were being replaced by those of Mao. “Nowhere is religious freedom under assault as it is in China today,” he said at a conference held by the US embassy to the Holy See.
- DATAROOMBridget Carter
Vatican-appointed bishops used to run an underground and frequently persecuted Catholic Church in China, unrecognised by Beijing, which oversees an official state Church. In 2018, the Vatican signed a deal giving China a say in naming new bishops who will recognise the Pope as their leader. Critics say this gives Beijing an effective veto.