How does this line-up sound? Gay and dissident Catholics, transgender activists and friends, the first openly gay Episcopal bishop, and a nun who widely advocated for Obamacare, despite opposition from the U. S. Bishops. Does that sound like the dream team for Pope Franics’ visit to the White House? It did to the Obama administration.
As the Wall Street Journal reported, the Vatican is not too pleased:
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 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.
Catholic teaching emphasizes treating all human beings with equal dignity and respect. But, Catholic teaching also holds views which the above-mentioned invitees are in clear and open opposition of.
Not all choose to highlight such concerns. The Washington’s Post headline reads, for instance, “In Pope Francis’s visit, White House sees a chance to transcend politics.”
It’s not merely the mainstream media though, but also White House Officials. The Hill reported a focus on their shared concern for “climate change,” including from Vice President Joe Biden himself.
During Thursday’s press briefing, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest was asked about sending a message to the Church on such issues. He mentioned that he wasn’t aware of the guest list, and instead said “I would warn you against drawing a lot of conclusions about one or two or maybe even three people who may be on the guest list, because there will be 15,000 other people there too.”
On Friday, the White House tried to focus on “diversity.” Earnest mentioned that they “would expect a wide variety of Americans who are enthused about the ability to see the pope.”
Earnest also said “I think that reflects the pope’s stature…and the way that he has inspired so many Americans, including those of who are not Catholic. I would expect the diversity of the crowd reflects the diversity of those in this country who are moved by the actions of this pope.”
Pope Francis will visit the White House on September 23, as part of his trip to the United States.