JOHANNESBURG - South Africa's Archbishop Desmond Tutu Monday appealed to the Pope to reconsider his decision not to meet the Dalai Lama during his visit to Rome.
"I am deeply saddened and distressed that the Holy Father, Pope Francis, should give in to these pressures and decline to meet the Dalai Lama," Tutu said in a statement.
The Dalai Lama arrived in the Italian capital Friday for a summit of Nobel peace laureates.
The event was moved to Italy from South Africa after the Pretoria government, anxious to foster economic ties with Beijing, declined to issue a visa for the 79-year-old Tibetan leader.
Tutu said he was aware of the "dilemma in which so many have been finding themselves with regard to their relationships with His Holiness and the People's Republic of China."
It was revealed on Thursday that the Pope would not be meeting the exiled spiritual leader.
Tutu has previously criticised the South African government for blocking the Dalai Lama's visits.
He said the Dalai Lama was "a holy man who speaks about peace, co-existence and compassion."
The outspoken Nobel Peace Prize laureate last week cancelled all his travel plans for the rest of the year to embark on a new treatment for the prostate cancer he's been living with for the past 15 years.
Tutu had also been scheduled to attend the Rome gathering.
He expressed his wish to meet the Pope had he been fit enough to attend the Rome meeting.