A number of popular conservatives have expressed their annoyance at the list of guests invited to the White House for the pope’s visit later this week. This is the pope’s first visit to the United States. The event is expected to be attended by about 15,000 people.
The simmering controversy over the Obama administration’s guest list for the pope’s visit revolves around the list containing a number of guests who are at odds with the Vatican’s positions on gay clergy, same-sex marriage and abortion. The guest list for the event reportedly includes the first openly gay Episcopal bishop, a leader for transgender rights, a gay Catholic blogger, and a prominent nun-lobbyist.
Online conservative critics sparked the debate over the invitations. In an article posted in Breitbart, Thomas Williams wrote that the guest list was “a stunning show of political indecorum” and lambasted the Obama Administration for inviting “a series of individuals who publicly flout Catholic teaching.”
On a site called Hot Air, Ed Morrissey wrote, “When the Saudis visited the White House this month, did Obama invite women’s-rights activists to dinner with them?” Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee tweeted: “Classless decision by @POTUS to transform @Pontifex visit into a politicized cattle call is an insult to millions of Catholics.”
A single unnamed Vatican source reported worries that photos of the pope with guests at the White House could be construed as an endorsement of their activities. However, a statement released by the Vatican said, “If some Vatican officials unnamed have expressed concern, that’s their issue and they should come forward and give their name.”
Reports of conflict over the guest list were played down by the Vatican and the White House, which was reportedly created through discussions between both parties. An American source close to the planning said that the crowd at the White House would be diverse in views. The pope has met with Catholics from the gay and lesbian community previously and has said he would refrain from judging them.