Pope Francis is expected to decline a meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has accused the Catholic Church of dropping its moral authority and turning a blind eye to China's human rights violations in signing an extension of a deal with the country, according to The Guardian.
Pompeo is scheduled to visit the Vatican this week and has been critical of a deal that allows the Vatican to appoint Catholic bishops in China. The deal was signed two years ago.
Critics have said the deal betrays millions of Chinese Catholics, who normally worship at churches off the grid.
"They're [sending] the flock into the mouths of the wolves," Cardinal Joseph Zen, the former archbishop of Hong Kong, said at the time.
Two new bishops have been appointed over the past two years following consultation with the Vatican.
Pompeo called on the Catholic church to shine a light on the human rights violations perpetrated by China.
Since signing the deal with China, Pope Francis ignored the imprisonment of at least one million Uighurs and other Muslims. People imprisoned in those prison camps have reportedly been starved, tortured, sexually assaulted, used for slave labor and have their organs extracted.
"The Holy See has a unique capacity and duty to focus the world's attention on human rights violations, especially those perpetrated by totalitarian regimes like Beijing's. In the late 20th century, the church's power of moral witness helped inspire those who liberated central and eastern Europe from communism, and those who challenged autocratic and authoritarian regimes in Latin America and East Asia," Pompeo wrote in The First Things, a U.S.-based Catholic magazine.
Pompeo continued, "That same power of moral witness should be deployed today with respect to the Chinese Communist party . . . What the church teaches the world about religious freedom and solidarity should now be forcefully and persistently conveyed by the Vatican in the face of the Chinese Communist party's relentless efforts to bend all religious communities to the will of the party and its totalitarian program."
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