The White House is planning a huge bash to welcome Pope Francis to Washington, but the event staff may need prayers. The event hasn’t even gotten off the ground yet and already there’s a giant snafu.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the guest list is troubling the Vatican and here’s why:
On the eve of Pope Francis’s arrival in the U.S., the Vatican has taken offense at the Obama administration’s decision to invite to the pope’s welcome ceremony transgender activists, the first openly gay Episcopal bishop and an activist nun who leads a group criticized by the Vatican for its silence on abortion and euthanasia.
According to a senior Vatican official, the Holy See worries that any photos of the pope with these guests at the White House welcoming ceremony next Wednesday could be interpreted as an endorsement of their activities.
The Pope’s concern about photo ops being interpreted is quite valid — and, no doubt, precisely the point of the White House’s particular guest list. Naturally, the Obama White House would never miss an opportunity to further the progressive left’s political agenda.
The tension exemplifies concerns among conservative Catholics, including many bishops, that the White House will use the pope’s visit to play down its differences with church leaders on such contentious issues as same-sex marriage and the contraception mandate in the health care law.
The White House didn’t respond to requests for comment on the Vatican’s reaction to the ceremony’s guest list. White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Thursday he was unaware of the names of individuals on the guest list, but cautioned against drawing any conclusions on specific guests “because there will be 15,000 other people there too.”
Well, Josh, I’m sorry you weren’t in the loop on the invitation list, but somehow The Wall Street Journal has a copy. We’ve posted it here below for you. And when you learn more about some of the folks on the list, you might even wonder if the White House is intentionally INSULTING the Pope. He appears to be, at the very least, trying to impose his own agenda on the Catholic church.
Among the expected guests is Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of Network, a self-described “Catholic social justice lobby” in Washington.
In 2012, the Vatican’s doctrinal office cited ties to Network as one of its reasons for ordering an overhaul of the Leadership Council of Women Religious, an umbrella group that claims about 1,500 leaders of religious orders, representing 80% of U.S. nuns. That decision drew wide protests in the U.S. The overhaul ended in April, having effected few substantive changes.
The Vatican had cited Network in connection to the LCWR’s failure to promote Catholic Church teaching against abortion and euthanasia.
In 2010, Sister Campbell drafted a “nuns’ letter” signed by 60 heads of religious orders and umbrella groups urging Congress to pass the health care bill even though it contained provisions that the U.S. bishops said would provide for abortion funding and require private insurers, including Catholic institutions, to provide contraceptives in violation of Catholic teaching.
In 2012, Sister Campbell led the first “Nuns on the Bus” tour to protest proposed cuts in federal funding for social services.
According to the Network website, other members of the Nuns on the Bus will join Sister Campbell at the White House on Wednesday, and Sister Campbell will attend Pope Francis’ address to Congress the next day as the guest of U.S. Sen.Barbara Boxer.
Bishop Gene Robinson, who has also been invited to the pope’s welcoming ceremony, is a former Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire and the first openly gay Episcopal bishop in the U.S. He is also an ex-spouse in a same-sex marriage. He didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Another guest, Mateo Williamson, is a former co-head of the transgender caucus of Dignity USA, a group for LGBT Catholics. He said the Vatican’s disapproval of his presence at the ceremony “speaks to the necessity for continued dialogue” between transgender Catholics and the church hierarchy.
“This is really not so much of a political statement as it is the reality that there are so many LGBT Catholics and family members of LGBT people who would really benefit from this message coming from the White House,” he said.
“Mr. Williamson, who is transgender, said he would be attending the ceremony as a guest of Vivian Taylor, a transgender woman who was invited by the White House and who formerly served as executive director of Integrity USA, an LBGT advocacy group in the Episcopal Church.”
“The presence of these figures is especially irritating, the Vatican official said, because it isn’t yet clear if the White House has invited any representatives of the U.S. anti-abortion movement, traditionally a high-priority cause for the U.S. bishops.”
Sadly, we all know by now that President Obama’s my-way-or-the-highway philosophy doesn’t leave much room for others’ opinions — apparently, not even the Pope’s.
Though, as The Washington Post notes, President Obama does seem to give a bit more leeway to dictator types over the pope.
What struck us as we read about this small controversy is the contrast between the administration’s apparent decision to risk a bit of rudeness in the case of the pope and its overwhelming deference to foreign dictators when similar issues arise. When Secretary of State John F. Kerry traveled to Havana to reopen the U.S. Embassy recently, he painstakingly excluded from the guest list any democrat, dissident or member of civil society who might offend the Castro brothers.
The Vatican isn’t the only one who isn’t too happy about the Washington event. Rep. Al Gosar, R-AZ, announced he’s going to pass on his invitation to the Pope’s Congressional address, as MSN reports:
In a sharp departure from the gushing enthusiasm from members on both sides of the aisle, Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., announced last week in a blistering op-ed he would be boycotting the address because media reports indicate Francis will not focus his remarks on “religious freedom and the sanctity of life.”
“Media reports indicate His Holiness instead intends to focus the brunt of his speech on climate change — a climate that has been changing since first created in Genesis,” Gosar wrote in his piece for TownHall.com. “More troubling is the fact that this climate change talk has adopted all of the socialist talking points, wrapped false science and ideology into ‘climate justice’ and is being presented to guilt people into leftist policies.”
In an interview with reporters a few hours after the op-ed was published, Gosar, a Catholic educated at Jesuit schools, reiterated his disappointment that the pope appears to be prioritizing discussions of climate change over “Christian persecution.”
“If there’s one person who can talk about this in Hell’s Den, which is right here, it’s the pope,” Gosar said.
Gosar said he knew of “at least one other member” who plans to boycott the pope, but declined to provide his or her name to reporters.”
If the White House didn’t invite any anti-abortion advocates to the welcoming party, I’d venture to guess there won’t be any of the dozens and dozens of scientists who oppose the climate change madness in attendance either. Once again, this White House’s push to promote “diversity” only includes those who promote the liberal left’s agenda — and excludes those who don’t. Apparently, in Obama’s America, even devout Catholics opposing abortion, may not make the cut for the Pope’s visit.