By Vatican News
It was a 45-minute “cordial” encounter in a “respectful environment", during which it was possible for both sides to present their respective positions on China, as well as discuss some of the world’s bloody conflicts.
The American Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, arrived at the Vatican on Thursday morning to meet Cardinal Pietro Parolin and his counterpart, Archbishop Gallagher, the Holy See’s "Foreign Minister".
Responding to questions from journalists, the Director of the Holy See's Press Office, Matteo Bruni, said: "During this morning's talks between the Secretary of State of the United States of America, Michael Richard Pompeo, and His Holiness' Secretary of State, His Eminence Cardinal Pietro Parolin, accompanied by His Excellency Archbishop Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States, the parties presented their respective positions regarding relations with the People's Republic of China, in a respectful, relaxed and cordial environment. They also spoke about some areas of conflict and crisis, particularly in the Caucasus, the Middle East, and the Eastern Mediterranean. The meeting lasted about 45 minutes."
As is known, in recent weeks some statements made by Secretary Pompeo against the Provisional Agreement signed two years ago by the Holy See and the People's Republic of China have provoked discussions in the media.
The Holy See, as Cardinal Parolin has repeatedly stated, intends to propose renewing the agreement, which is still in provisional form. He has emphasized its genuinely pastoral character, which is aimed only at ensuring that the Chinese bishops are in full communion with the Successor of Peter.
Later the same evening, Cardinal Parolin spoke during the presentation of a book entitled La tunica e la tonaca (The tunic and the cassock) written by Father Enzo Fortunato. He took the opportunity to emphasize how cordial the meeting was with the U.S. Secretary of State. Regarding the relations between the Holy See and the People's Republic of China, he emphasized that U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo had expressed with "detailed reasoning" the motivations for intervening in the past few days and that "how the Holy See approaches these problems" be understood.
"Each of us is seeking religious freedom and a normal life for the Church. We diverge regarding the method to reach that goal", the Cardinal said. "At the same time", he added, "we stand by the choice on our part, a choice that was thought over, a choice that was reflected on, a choice that was prayed over, a choice that the Pope made and, therefore, had the freedom to pursue".
Regarding the Provisional Agreement between the Holy See and the People's Republic of China, Cardinal Parolin in the end expressed the hope that it might work out "better in respect to what has taken place so far and that bishops can be appointed for all vacant dioceses in China".
This article was updated at 22:00