Courtesy of Vox:
When President Donald Trump’s top diplomat can’t get a meeting with God’s ambassador, you know something is wrong.
While on a weeklong trip to Europe, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo planned to sit down with Pope Francis during a visit to the Vatican. But the Catholic leader refused the photo ops and handshakes with America’s top diplomat out of one major concern: That he’d be a pawn in Trump’s reelection efforts.
“Yes, that is precisely why the pope will not meet American secretary of state Mike Pompeo,” Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the Vatican’s secretary for relations with states, told Italian news agency Ansa on Wednesday.
That’s jarring, especially since the men met in person last October to discuss promoting religious freedom, even amid impeachment hearings in Washington.
Pompeo still met with top Vatican officials, but the papal stiff-arming underscored two key changes.
First, Pompeo wanted to criticize the Vatican’s still-secret deal with China, agreed to two years ago, so instead he used a speech in Rome on Wednesday to make his points publicly. “Nowhere is religious freedom under assault more than in China,” Pompeo said during a conference on religious freedom hosted by the US embassy to the Holy See, clearly directing his comments at Pope Francis. “We must support those demanding freedom in our time.”
It’s not a surprise Pompeo went after the deal. He’s led the administration’s fierce pushback against China and wants much of the world to follow suit. Plus, Pompeo has made promoting religious liberty a key issue during his time at the State Department.
Second, the 2020 US presidential election is just over a month away, and pictures of Pompeo and His Holiness smiling and chuckling could conceivably alter some Americans’ views on the current administration. Pope Francis, it seems, didn’t want to run that risk.
Apparently, the Pope does not want to do anything that might keep Trump in office either.
It is not just patriotic Americans who want Trump dragged out of the White House, anyone who ever used to admire the United States wants the same.