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09/19/2022 China (International Christian Concern) – Last week, both Pope Francis and Xi Jinping happened to be in Kazakhstan on official visits. While they were there, Pope Francis expressed his openness to meeting with Xi Jinping.  

The Pope was in the Kazakh capital of Nur Sultan for an interreligious conference. Xi was also in Nur Sultan, and he met with the Kazakh president, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the day after the Pope did.  

In response to a “gesture of availability” from the Vatican, Chinese officials said that, while the gesture was appreciated, Xi did not have time in his schedule to meet with the pontiff.  

Despite Pope Francis’ repeatedly stated desire to visit China and meet with Xi, there has still never been a meeting between a pope and a president of China.  

The coinciding visits of the two leaders come as the Vatican and China set to renew a controversial provisional agreement on bishop appointment that will expire in October this year. Despite this deal, the underground Chinese Catholics have faced crackdowns from Beijing in the past years.  

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