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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

Nov 17, 2020 - World

Scoop: State Department to release Kennan-style paper on China

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The U.S. State Department's Office of Policy Planning is set to release a blueprint for America’s response to China’s rise as an authoritarian superpower, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The lengthy document calls for strong alliances and rejuvenation of constitutional democracy. Axios obtained a copy.

6 hours ago - Health

Food banks feel the strain without holiday volunteers

People wait in line at Food Bank Community Kitchen on Nov. 25 in New York City. Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Food Bank For New York City

America's food banks are sounding the alarm during this unprecedented holiday season.

The big picture: Soup kitchens and charities, usually brimming with holiday volunteers, are getting far less help.

9 hours ago - Health

AstraZeneca CEO: "We need to do an additional study" on COVID vaccine

Photo: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said on Thursday the company is likely to start a new global trial to measure how effective its coronavirus vaccine is, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: Following Phase 3 trials, Oxford and AstraZeneca said their vaccine was 90% effective in people who got a half dose followed by a full dose, and 62% effective in people who got two full doses.