Pope Francis denial to meet Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama has not gone well with the exile community, who feel it is a setback to the inter-religion harmony.
The Dalai Lama who is in Rome had made a request for an audience with Pope, which was rejected citing Holy See's already fraught relations with China.
The last meeting between a pope and the Dalai Lama, who fled to India after a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959, was in 2006, when he met former pope Benedict XVI.
“I am sorry to hear this news because the Dalai Lama, for whole of his life, tried to develop relations between religious leaders and inter-harmony between religions,” said Dawa Tsering, a member of Tibetan parliament-in-exile.
“It's a setback to the inter-religion harmony. It might be because of Chinese pressure or Pope wanted to make China happy,” he added.
Tsering Tsomo, director of Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy, said it was very disappointing development given the fact that religious repression was one of the major human rights issues in China.
“Least we could expect is for globally revered spiritual leaders like Pope Francis to work towards elevating the sufferings of Chinese Christians as well as Tibetan Buddhists in the People's Republic of China,” said Tsomo.
She said the situation had been deteriorating inside Tibet for many years and it was very important for spiritual leaders to get together and put concerted efforts towards ensuring religious freedom of both Tibetan Buddhist and Chinese Christians.
However, most of Tibetan leaders, even office of PM-in-exile refused to comment on the issue given the sensitivity of the issue.