ROME — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's diplomatic trip to the Vatican will end without an audience with Pope Francis.
The Vatican declined his request to see Pope Francis, citing a routine policy to not grant papal audiences during election campaigns.
Pompeo spent 45 minutes in the Apostolic Palace with his Vatican counterpart, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and the Vatican foreign minister a day after tensions over the Holy See’s outreach to Beijing spilled out in public.
Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said both sides “presented their respective positions” about relations with China in a climate of “respect, openness and cordiality.”
The State Department said they discussed defending religious freedom. Pompeo has criticized the Vatican's 2018 agreement with Beijing on nominating bishops.