Vatican Official Unconcerned About White House Guest List Controversy

Pope Francis
Pope Francis waves as he arrives to lead his Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican, September 9, 2015. |

A representative of the Vatican said that the Roman Catholic Church is not concerned with the controversy over the White House inviting pro-gay and pro-choice individuals to meet Pope Francis when he visits the nation's capital.

Father Thomas Rosica, a Vatican adviser and spokesman, was asked by Chris Wallace of Fox News Sunday about the recent guest list controversy.

"The administration has reportedly invited some transgender activists, the first openly gay episcopal bishop to come to the meeting, but so far there's no word that he — that they have invited some of the leaders of the pro-life movement to the welcoming ceremony," noted Wallace.

U.S. President Barack Obama
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference about the recent nuclear deal reached with Iran, in the East Room of the White House in Washington July 15, 2015. |

Fr. Rosica responded that "the Vatican never gets involved in the guest lists of heads of state" and that it should be stressed that there will be approximately 15,000 guests, including many in line with Church teaching.

"There are 15,000 or so people invited to the White House and there are many pro-life people in that audience. I met a few coming here this morning. They are looking forward to it," said Rosica.

"They don't have press agents who are telling the world that they are invited to the White House. That's the problem. I was at the White House in 2008 when the president received Pope Benedict. And that's quite a big crowd. So to say that they have invited six or eight out of 15,000 really doesn't do justice to the 14,994 who represent the American people."

Beginning this week, Pope Francis will be undertaking an official visit of the United States, the first such journey during his reign as head of the Catholic Church.

Part of his itinerary will be Capitol Hill, as the Pontiff will meet with Obama as well as address a joint session of Congress, the first pope to do so.

The White House garnered controversy when it was revealed that Obama will have several critics of Catholic Church teaching present to meet the pope, including former openly gay Episcopal bishop Gene Robinson, and former co-head of the transgender caucus of Dignity USA Mateo Williamson, and assorted pro-choice Catholic activists.

These individuals being present on the White House guest list prompted criticism from a wide range of individuals, from evangelical leader Rev. Franklin Graham to the editorial board of The Washington Post.

In a published perspective piece, the editorial board noted "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."

"The Vatican worries that photos taken with the pope might be used to suggest his endorsement of activities he in fact disapproves of," argued the editorial board.

"... when Chinese President Xi Jinping comes to the White House next week, shortly after the pope leaves town, it's a safe bet that he won't have to risk being photographed with anyone of whom he disapproves."

Debate over the White House guest list comes as Francis arrived and held mass at the Plaza of the Revolution in Havana, Cuba on Sunday.

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