United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his wife Susan Pompeo walk out of the plane upon arriving at Ciampino military airport, in Rome, Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019. Pompeo is in Italy for a 3-day trip. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

At Vatican, Pompeo urges alliance for religious freedom

October 02, 2019 - 1:53 am

VATICAN CITY (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday criticized governments that wield absolute power as threats to religious freedom, as he scrambled to contain a political crisis back home.

Amid a growing storm in Washington over an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, Pompeo went to the Vatican to urge it and other nations to join the Trump administration in an alliance to promote global religious freedom. He told a conference on human dignity and faith that when governments hold all the power, religion is a threat.

"When the state rules absolutely, human dignity is trampled, not cherished," he said.

"When the state rules absolutely, moral norms are crushed completely. When the state rules absolutely, it demands its citizens worship government, not God."

He singled out China, Cuba, Iran, Myanmar and Syria in particular for repressing religious freedom.

Pompeo delivered the speech as he came under increasing scrutiny from House Democrats leading the impeachment proceedings. On Tuesday, he pushed back on demands for House demands for interviews with State Department officials about the administration's dealings with Ukraine that are at the center of the inquiry.