Pope Francis will not meet the Dalai-lama, revealed a Vatican spokesperson on Thursday. The Dalai-lama is expected to spend 3 days in Rome from Friday, on the occasion of the summit of Nobel Peace Prize winners. “Pope Francis obviously has great respect for the Dalai-lama, but will invite none of the Nobel Peace Prize laureates. He will send a recorded message to those taking part” in the summit, according to Ciro Debenettini, deputy spokesperson for the Vatican, giving no other explanation.
Well-informed sources confirm the decision of the Vatican not to invite the Dalai-lama is based on the Holy See’s efforts to engage China, the prickliness of Beijing on this matter, and the risk of Catholic freedoms being affected in China.
The pope feels inter-religious dialogue is very important, and the church’s relationship with Buddhism will be highlighted during his coming trip to Sri Lanka from January 12th to 14th.
The last time a pope met with the Dalai-lama was during a private interview granted by Pope Benedict XVI in October 2006.
The Holy See is trying to establish full diplomatic relations with China, but insists that Chinese authorities must first allow total religious freedom, especially for the small Catholic minority, and leave the Vatican to choose its own bishops.
The 14th Nobel Prize summit, held in Rome from Friday to Sunday, should have taken place in The Cape in October, but had to be postponed and moved to Rome as the Dalai-lama was not able to get a visa to enter South Africa.