ROME — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Pope Francis in a private audience in the Vatican Thursday where the two leaders discussed a common approach to religious liberty.
Secretary Pompeo and Pope Francis “reaffirmed the United States and Holy See commitment to advancing religious freedom around the world, and in particular, protecting Christian communities in the Middle East,” said Mr. Pompeo’s spokesperson Morgan Ortagus: in a statement.
“The Secretary and Pope Francis also discussed the continued efforts of the United States and the Holy See to promote democracy and human rights globally,” she said.
On Wednesday, Mr. Pompeo participated in a symposium on religious freedom in the Vatican co-sponsored by the Vatican’s Secretariat of State and the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See.
“The Holy See and the United States have had our differences over the years. Good people can disagree,” Pompeo said.
“But on the issues most fundamental, on the issues of human dignity and religious freedom, these issues that transcend everyday politics, on the enduring struggle of the individual’s right to believe and worship, we must – and I know we will – march together,” he added.
After the conference, Secretary Pompeo met with his counterpart in the Vatican, Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, along with the Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States Archbishop Paul Gallagher
According to his spokesperson, Mr. Pompeo “thanked Cardinal Parolin and Archbishop Gallagher for the Vatican’s efforts to provide humanitarian assistance and end the suffering of the Venezuelan people.”
“They also discussed the importance of preventing trafficking in persons and advancing international religious freedom,” she said.
“On the Middle East, the Secretary noted U.S. efforts to support Christian minorities, and emphasized the importance of continued calls from the United States and the Vatican to end the humanitarian catastrophe in Syria,” she said.