Friday, September 18, 2015


Wall Street Journal

Sept. 17, 2015

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.

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.”

In the last few days, several people have acknowledged or made public their receipt of invitations to the event, which will be held on the White House’s South Lawn on the morning of Pope Francis’ first full day in the U.S.


Paul said...

I recall the movie Freaks (1933). If President Obama thinks he can test, trip up or shame Pope Francis with a parade of specially chosen, uh, people I've no doubt that His Holiness will remind everyone (including the President) that the "fringes of society" are people, too and demonstrate what true love and tolerance is. Perhaps President Obama's prideful spectacle will, unwittingly, lead to more conversions -- if anyone pays attention.

Rood Screen said...

Paul makes an insightful point.

As for adverse photo-ops, all the Holy Father need do is speak clearly on the value of human life.

Anonymous said...

Oh what a surprise. This is just a guess. I'm going out on a limb here. But I bet the guest list doesn't change and Francis is still photographed with those people causing more scandal. But it isn't Francis' fault is it. And there Dolan will be in the background doing back slaps and fat belly laughs. Oh dear god. I'm not watching TV for the week he is here. It is going to be one huge scandal ridden disaster.

Calvin of Hippo said...

A German Bishop who will be attending the Synod said today that the Church should give "private blessings" to those in homosexual unions or stable unmarried unions. Right. This whole annulment thing is nothing but a stalking horse for larger family issues which a strong faction in the Church and in the Synod with to use to fundamentally change Church doctrine through pastoral practice. If the Pope was anyone to be taken seriously, he would discipline this and other Bishops who utter this nonsense. What a joke.

Anonymous said...

Hang out with dogs, get up with flees.


Calvin of Hippo said...

This just the list of guests at the Obama/Pope meeting there have been added a man that is married to a goat, a transgender lesbian couple who have adopted a pedophile, a mass murderer, and a at eleven.

rcg said...

I tend to concur with Paul. I think Pope Francis is struggling to walk the line between trying to keep traditionalists in the Church, keep ultra traditionalists and progressives from drifting too far, and reaching out to the people who are living total darkness. The risk for a mortal shepherd is that he spreads himself too thin and lose some of the sheep already has.

Anonymous said...

Who is the Vatican to judge?


Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

RCG, I agree. Europe has become so secular that the pope is trying to reach those who have tuned out and turned off. He's gotten their attention and this alarms many who haven't tuned out or turned off and think maybe he's selling out. I don't think so, he wants the Church to be the dragnet of Jesus' parable and then let Jesus' do the sorting at our personal judgement or general judgement.

As I've said before the Church prior to Vatican II had 90% of Catholic attending Mass, but many of them were merely cultural Catholics doing the minimal, which was coming to Mass weekly and going to Confession once a year and receiving Holy Communion once a year during Easter (the Easter Duty). We need to have cultural Catholics again mixed in with the more fervent!

rcg said...

It occurred to me this morning how not only disrespectful our President is toward the Pope, but actually contemptuous of him and Catholicism. I doubt that he would invite dissidents to meet with Putin, or even have French food served to the Italian prime minister. Just after the Supreme Court endorsed sodomy the President commented that we could change our religions to match out progressive intellects. This is his evangelization of the Pope and he is demonstrating it with the Catholics he has remade in his own image. The President feels safe doing this because, as we know, the Pope has no Divisions and the columns he has in this country vote for the President. I wonder if the Vice-President and potential front runner for the next election will meet with the Pope? This is a whole new level of demon than some seduced nun who is little more than a talking bumper sticker. This is someone who wants to be an apparatchik in the damnation of civilization. He can finally force the photo op with the Pope and contest whether the cardinals or the people elect the leader of American Catholics.

Anonymous 2 said...

Let me make sure I understand: Is the Vatican “offended” or “worried”? I have seen both words used to describe the Vatican's reaction. Anyway, I suppose that if there had been TV in biblical times, Jesus would have declined to be photographed with tax collectors and prostitutes. His spokesman Peter would have given advance warning to the media that Jesus wanted only “good and righteous people” in the photo with Him and certainly not notorious sinners, thank you very much.

Calvin of Hippo said...

Anon 2, there are sinners and, then, there are sinners...there is a difference between a contrite, self-aware sinner who knows he lives in sin, struggles with his weakness, and comes to the Church seeking forgiveness...and the aggressive, self-satisfied, defiant
sinner who loudly insists the Church change to accommodate his and others' abominations. These latter are enemies of the Church, feel no contrition and tempt Christ. They deserve the quick trip to Hell they are willfully taking.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Hippo, I agree with the distinctions you make about the various sinners, those who know they are and humbly acknowledge it or those who are but pridefully say they aren't sinners. Sounds like Scripture to me!

Pope Francis isn't stupid and will see the ideology that President Obama is using to divide Catholics. He has been called the divider in chief and sadly this is very, very true. I'll be glad when he is finished with his time.

Calvin of Hippo said...

Fr, my opinion is that it would be a far stronger statement and witness if the Pope declined the meeting and said in no uncertain terms why he was doing so. What would be so hard about that?

rcg said...

But is Pope Francis to sophisticated enough to distinguish between the President other Americans who are trying to peacefully and legally change the country? It is is the same distinction that must be made else the Church is condemned by the actions or errant clergy.

rcg said...

But is Pope Francis to sophisticated enough to distinguish between the President other Americans who are trying to peacefully and legally change the country? It is is the same distinction that must be made else the Church is condemned by the actions or errant clergy.

George said...

" Anyway, I suppose that if there had been TV in biblical times, Jesus would have declined to be photographed with tax collectors and prostitutes."

Wll, it's not as if Pontius Pilate or Caesar agreed to met with Jesus and for that formal occasion brought in prostitutes and tax collectors. Sinners, some of them anyway, were attracted to Christ because somewhere within themselves there existed a sense of remorse about the sinful lives they were leading. These were some (but not all) of the kind of people Jesus encountered in his day to day movement among the populace of that time. Christ did not come to do away with sin but to save those who were ensnared by it and desired to be free of its enslavement. In God there is no contradiction or conflict between His Law and His Love, between His Justice and His Mercy.
What is happening with this White House meeting is of a whole different nature. Given some of Mr Obama's statements over the course of his presidency, one is not out of line in thinking that his motives are less than pure and in fact are philosophically, if not politically motivated.

Anonymous 2 said...

Calvin and Father McDonald:

I agree with the distinction between the two categories of sinners you draw, of course, although I would not be as harsh as Calvin given the perennial hope for conversion of heart and redemption. But let’s not get distracted here. Our focus is not on particular sinners or on President Obama. It is on the Pope and what it is now appropriate for him to do, not on for President Obama and what it was inappropriate for_him_to do. Just what kind of message would it send to sinners (who include all of us) if Pope Francis insisted on excluding a particular group of them from the gathering? How well would this sit with the words of scripture (Matthew 10-13):

10 While he was at table in [Matthew’s] house, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with Jesus and his disciples.

11 The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

12 He heard this and said, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.

13 Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”

Yes, of course Obama is not Matthew, but this is certainly how I would prefer to interpret any such encounter between Pope Francis and the “objectionable” elements in the gathering. How about you? And yes, I agree, Pope Francis is not stupid, so I bet he finds a way to turn any such encounter to good account. My goodness, he has just met with Fidel Castro after all. Similarly, I strongly doubt that having an activist nun or a gay Episcopal Bishop among a gathering of 15000 or even in the same photo will harm him or the Church. Indeed if he refused to encounter “defiant sinners” all the time, especially as Head of State (the Holy See), he wouldn’t be encountering many people. Moreover, how do we know that all of the “publicans and sinners” who came to eat with Jesus were contrite? Would He have barred from entering the house those whose hearts were prideful (something surely He would have known)?

Anonymous 2 said...


I may have answered your point in my previous post, which crossed with yours. But let me add: On your premise that Pope Francis should not meet with a gay Episcopal Bishop, for example, to be consistent should Pope Francis refuse to meet at all with Obama (I think Calvin would think so) and with most (perhaps all) of Congress? In fact, why doesn’t he just pack up his bags and return to Rome (or Argentina as many of his critics in the Church, including some on this Blog, would prefer)?

To be quite honest, I am asking myself whether hostility to Obama is what this is really all about. Am I wrong? After all, according to some polls, up to 50% or more of Republican voters still believe he is a Muslim (and this is not because of technical arguments based on Islamic Law I can assure you) and was not born in the United States. Good grief!

Calvin of Hippo said...

Anon 2, Obviously, you do not understand the concept "enemy of the Church." Or, in typical naive fashion, you don't think there really are evil people out there intent upon destroying the Faith and Christian moral values. You probably abhor Holocaust deniers while engaging in similar behavior.

George said...


What is problematic to me is this forced encounter, this "set-up" by the President. It really should be Pope Francis' who makes the decision who, at in what place, he meets with others.The President has put the Pope in a difficult position in which the Holy Father will be criticized whatever he decides to do. When Pope St John Paul II came to this country, I don't recall he was put into a similar situation. If he had been, it would have been just as wrong then.

Anonymous 2 said...


“You probably abhor Holocaust deniers while engaging in similar behavior.” Huh?

Anonymous 2 said...

Is this a storm in a teacup, or a needle in a haystack that everyone is focusing on (a few individuals among 15000)? I have noticed that all the reports I have seen about the Vatican being "offended" or "angered" are in “conservative” publications. Here is a very different report from the (admittedly liberal) Guardian in Britain:

So, the skeptic (or cynic) in me has to wonder just who is playing politics here when I read:


A Vatican official has said the White House was “smart enough” to know it ought not to try to embarrass Pope Francis at a planned welcome reception for the pontiff next week that will include several guests – including a transgender woman and gay activists – whose presence highlights some of the church’s exclusionary policies.

The Vatican official – who asked not to be identified – said that officials in Rome were not “overly concerned” that the White House guest list for the pope’s welcome party in Washington included guests that could be considered controversial for the church.

But the person added that it would be the White House, not the Holy See, that would find it embarrassing if the welcome party, which will partly be held on the South Lawn and will include 15,000 guests, looked like a political stunt.

Conservative media outlets have in recent days reported that the assembled guests will include Sister Simone Campbell, an activist nun and Guardian contributor who supported the passage of the Affordable Care Act – known as Obamacare – even though it contained provisions involving abortion funding that were opposed by US bishops. Bishop Gene Robinson, a gay former Episcopalian bishop, has also reportedly been invited, as has a transgender activist, Vivian Taylor.

The person said that the Vatican had “noted” that invitations had been extended to certain individuals, but said: “There are much bigger things going on in this trip and frankly the White House is smarter than that, they’re not going to [load up] the front row [with these guests],” the person said.

“They [at the Vatican] are confident that it is not going to be a problem,” the official added.

George said...

"Is this a storm in a teacup, or a needle in a haystack that everyone is focusing on (a few individuals among 15000)?"

Well, yes, because we know that it is not beyond the realm of possibility that the cameras of the media outlets there will "focus" on these small number of controversial guests. Pope Francis is not one to be confrontational about these things. There were times when Pope St John Paul II would get confrontational. Different popes,different styles. This is not on the Holy Father anyway. It is totally in the lap of the President. I just can't conceive of him doing something similar to some other world leader important person.