A meeting of Nobel Peace Prize Laureates in Rome on Friday was met with conflict when Pope Francis declined a meeting with the Dalai Lama, one on one. The tension arose due to a fear that the meeting might offend China, who has exiled the Tibetan spiritual icon. The issue arises after President Jacob G. Zuma, of Cape Town, refused a visa to the Dalai Lama, resulting in a rescheduling of location for the event, in order to prevent segregation of any attendees.
News of President Zuma’s move to keep the Dalai Lama away from the event upset many attendees, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu. He publicly expressed his shame to be ruled by his government’s decision, calling them the “lipstick bunch.” Further dismay was expressed when Pope Francis declined to meet with the Dalai Lama.
Pope Francis is not afraid to make controversial decisions, yet it seems he would make the decision to meet with his Buddhist spiritual counterpart instead of decline a meeting. Yet, as reported by The New York Times, the Dali Lama was told the rejection was because a meeting “might create inconveniencesm,” referring to tensions between China and the Dali Lama. This is due to the Vatican’s hopes to rekindle ties with China and set up a Catholic church on their soil.
Although a face to face meeting was rejected, Pope Francis is willing to present the Dali Lama with a video message to show his support. Despite the refusal to meet with the Dali Lama, it is reported that Pope Francis chose not to meet with any of the Nobel Peace Prize Laureates.
“Pope Francis obviously holds the Dalai Lama in very high regard, but he will not be meeting any of the Nobel laureates.”
The Dali Lama is not upset over the missed opportunity to sit with the Pope. Instead, he stated that he is a big fan of the Pope, according to NBC News, and will await another opportunity. He has not had a papal audience since 2006, when he met with Pope Benedict.
China has verbally campaigned for all notable political leaders to stop treating the Dalai Lama as a dignitary. Their threats seem to carry some influence as leaders, such as President Zuma and Pope Francis, clearly declined meetings with the Dalai Lama. However, he has not been shunned by every leader, political and religious, as is evident by the support given by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
[Photo Courtesy: The Telegraph]