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Pompeo. Photo: Getty

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will visit the Vatican on Tuesday to protest the pending renewal of a controversial deal with China.

Behind the scenes: Pope Francis has reportedly declined to meet with Pompeo, citing the imminent U.S. election.

The big picture: The terms of the deal with Beijing are secret, but it reportedly gives the Vatican a say in the appointment of bishops in the government-sanctioned Church in China.

It's controversial for multiple reasons.

  1. Some critics argued that cutting a deal with the Chinese government meant selling out the many Chinese Catholics who take the risk of worshipping in non-sanctioned churches.
  2. Others including Pompeo contend that in order to facilitate stronger ties with China, the Church has declined to take a strong stand against China's human rights abuses.
  • "The Vatican endangers its moral authority, should it renew the deal," Pompeo tweeted earlier this month.

Between the lines: It's highly unusual for a senior U.S. official to criticize the pope so forcefully.

Worth noting: Francis already has plenty on his plate. He removed a senior cardinal who had been viewed as a potential future pope last week over claims he embezzled Church funds, per AP.

Go deeper

Oct 27, 2020 - World

Senators introduce bipartisan resolution to label Xinjiang abuses "genocide"

Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

A cadre of bipartisan senators introduced a resolution on Tuesday to formally label the Chinese government's human rights abuses against Uighur Muslims and other ethnic minorities in the region of Xinjiang as "genocide."

Why it matters: China has faced global backlash for its repression in Xinjiang, where ethnic minorities are subject to surveillance, torture and detention in mass "re-education" camps. But genocide is a serious crime under international law, and the U.S. invokes the formal label only in rare cases.

Oct 28, 2020 - World

Scoop: Secret Israel-Sudan contacts enabled deal sealed by Trump

Trump on the phone with the leaders of Sudan and Israel. Photo: Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty

While the U.S. officially brokered the Israel-Sudan normalization deal, it was Israel that facilitated talks between the U.S. and Sudan on the broader deal that included Sudan’s removal from America’s state sponsors of terrorism list.

Why it matters: Israel’s secret contacts with Sudanese officials paved the way for a deal that was nearly a year in the making.

2 hours ago - Health

Ipsos poll: COVID trick-or-treat

Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Note ±3.3% margin of error for the total sample size; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

About half of Americans are worried that trick-or-treating will spread coronavirus in their communities, according to this week's installment of the Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

Why it matters: This may seem like more evidence that the pandemic is curbing our nation's cherished pastimes. But a closer look reveals something more nuanced about Americans' increased acceptance for risk around activities in which they want to participate.