How Did Those People Get Invited to the WH Reception for Pope Francis?

How Did Those People Get Invited to the WH Reception for Pope Francis? September 18, 2015

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons. Official White House Photo.
Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons. Official White House Photo.

The story is out there, circling the internet. It goes something like this: President Obama has invited a trove of dissenting Catholics and critics of Catholic teaching to the White House reception for Pope Francis.

I delayed writing about it because I couldn’t track it back to the original source. I wasn’t able to get an official list of invitees. The internet sources I found linked to one another in a circular fashion.

Then, I stumbled across the GLAAD site. GLAAD is, among other things, a gay rights media watch dog. I don’t know if the White House issued any individual invitations to the reception. But it appears that they issued a sort of group invitation to GLAAD which allowed GLAAD to issue their own invitations to people of their choice.

GLAAD invited their own Director and Executive Director. They also invited — get ready for this now — Sister Jeanine Gramick.

Sr Gramick’s ministry to homosexual people, as well as her books, have made her a famous dissident in the Church. She was  instructed by the Congregation on Doctrine and the Faith that she was teaching things that were in contradiction to Catholic teaching and that were “erroneous and dangerous” to souls and to stop both the ministry and her writing. In addition to defying the Church on homosexuality, Sister Gramick also petitioned President Obama to repeal the Hyde Amendment and allow direct federal funding for abortions.

It appears that the White House reception for Pope Francis will host a number of questionable invitees. Some of them are, like Sr Gramick, in rebellion against the Church. Others, such as Episcopalian Bishop Gene Robinson, who was the first sexually active gay Episcopalian bishop, are not Catholic, but merely notorious for living a lifestyle that affronts Catholic teaching.

I’m not going to give you a laundry list of questionable guests to the White House reception for the pope. I can’t verify all of them. I think a lot of them were invited through this process of first inviting controversial groups who are known to be in disagreement with the Church and giving them the power to invite others. That makes tracking it back like unraveling a spider’s web. It’s further complicated by the fact that most of these organization will keep their actions private. In short: We may never know who was invited, or by whom.

None of this excuses the White House for this inhospitable behavior. They knew this would happen when they chose groups like GLAAD in the first place.

I’m not outraged by this. President Obama’s attitude toward Christians in general and the Catholic Church, in particular, has pushed my outrage button so many times that the poor thing is almost worn out.

What I am is embarrassed. This discourtesy toward the Holy Father is not just the boorishness of one rude man toward his guest. It is the discourtesy of the United States Government toward the leader of the largest Church in the world.

There is only one pope, and the position of leadership that he occupies is unique. He is the spiritual and moral leader of a billion and a quarter people, one seventh of the world’s population. His leadership crosses every border, reaches into every culture and clime. From dateline to dateline, pole to pole, the Catholic Church is there.

No other leader on this planet approaches the scope and reach of the leadership exercised by this humble man in white.

I would like to be proud of the way my country conducts itself when it welcomes the Pope to these shores. I want the president to demonstrate the genuine warmth and open-hearted kindness of the good people of these United States of America.

We are not a bunch of idiot rubes who put our most divisive and oafish foot forward by inviting people to meet the pope when we know those people’s presence will create controversy. That is not American hospitality. It is President Obama’s inability or unwillingness to put his petty political concerns aside for one day and be the host in chief.

There are many homosexuals who are also faithful and devout Catholics. The president should have invited a few of them. If he doesn’t know any, he should have asked me. I know several. There is no reason — none — to go in-your-face with this important guest to our country by inviting people who have publicly engaged in flame-throwing against the Church.

I am left to wonder; When Pope Francis visits Cuba, will Fidel Castro, this atheist communist, end up treating him with more respect that our American president?


For more thoughts on this issue, check out Elizabeth Scalia over at Aleteia, and John White at Catholic Vote. 

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66 responses to “How Did Those People Get Invited to the WH Reception for Pope Francis?”

  1. Obama is despicable for using the Pope’s visit for his political motives. If he thinks he can change the Catholic Church by bringing together his left wing activists to meet the Pope at a White House dinner, then he’s delusional or badly informed about Catholicism. But what I can tell you for sure is that this president is just a slimy person that I continue to not have respect for.

  2. I’m sure such guests aren’t surprising to the Holy Father… he was handed the communist cross, after all, visting S.Am.. Perhaps he files such petty actions under “if the World hated Me, it will hate you, too” and just moves on. Of course, were the king of Saudi visiting, it’s highly unlikely any gay rights activists would be on hand, regardless of how they deal with gays, because it really isn’t that the prez loves gays, he just loathes orthodox Christians and enjoys tweaking their noses.

  3. Short answer, yes. All Americans will look like classless boors and hedonists and, because of PF’s preferences, he won’t have any chance to see normal Americans.

  4. I think you’re blowing this out of proportion; its only a controversy if you make it into one. If anything, you could argue that the people who disagree with the pope on certain issues are the ones that need to meet with him the most; at the very least to show the world that disagreement does not exclude civility or the ability to find common ground on other issues.

    You should have more faith in your pope. There is no need for you to get outraged on his behalf; he’s not made out of glass.

  5. Yes, probably no surprise to Pope Francis, but still, it is absolutely despicable. It is baloney that the guest list resembles an average Mass…maybe at Sister Gramick’s lunatic parish.

  6. This is a diplomatic reception and official visit. Since President Obama took office he has been ham-handed, clumsy, insulting, and incompetent. Witness gifts of iPods with his speeches, a “reset” button that said overcharge, and many others.
    Professional diplomats find this kind of crap annoying, but they also make the administration and the country look inept and amateurish.
    I hate those functions, but they are part of the job. He should have some better people doing these things. It is ridiculous.
    I realize most Americans do not understand why it is important, but it is. Putin will be rolling on the floor howling.

  7. No normal Americans go to the White House, or very few. The pope will see normal Americans in New York and Philly

  8. Apparently there will be 15000 people or so on the south lawn. I tend to regard this as a media event, although it does speak ill of the President of the United States. The pope is not just a religious leader, he is a head of state. Would Pres. Obama invite IRA members if he were hosting Queen Elizabeth II?

    The Vatican may or may not have pushed back on this. The stories vary, but in my mind that would be stooping to the president’s level.

  9. Is there not going to be an official reception by the bishops whilst the Pope is in the U.S.? I am sure that they will be much more orthodox in who they invite to meet Francis. But I think “bad” Catholics and “heretics” want to meet the Pope too, even if they disagree, and when else will they have the chance?

  10. Would the president invite IRA members to a reception for Queen Elizabeth? Yes.
    Did he invite gay activists or Ayaan Hirsi Ali to the reception for the Emir of Qatar in May? No, he did not.

  11. Because of PF’s agenda he will visit prisoners and immigrants. There will be huge crowds but he will only wave at them. He has never Benin to the U.S. and recently said he really knew nothing about “middle class.”
    Most European clerics think Church funds come either from the government or the super rich. In the U.S. The Church is supported by our normal collections. That is one thing he will not see. He will also miss the conscious, deliberate devotion of lots of Catholic Americans.

  12. It may also be worth noting that members of Congress were also given tickets to distribute as they saw fit for White House events for this visit – so figuring out who invited who and how they got there could be extremely complicated.

  13. I don’t know, I think this is a great move, and not merely because it’s Obama and the Pope. It’s good for the government of one country to remind another of political dissidents, regardless of what the country is, and I wish we we would do it in more cases. Similarly, it would be nice if other nations could do the same to us when we send a delegation.

  14. Make sure those evil gays are tossed out first with the harlots and publicans. Purify the way! I am trash merely to be tossed.

    What exactly is the point of your religion?

  15. I’m not sure, Anne. Remember that the centerpiece of the trip is the conference on families, not American politics. From what I’ve read, the people at that conference will be the devout, seeking a holy family life. Of course, the media will focus on the freak sideshows, but they usually miss the heart of any matter.

  16. Rebecca, I think you missed a memo. Sr Gramick and other leaders of New Ways Ministries attended a Papal general audience in the Vatican in February of this year. The Pope’s General Secretary, Georg Ganswein, invited the New Ways people to sit in the front row. As the saying goes, “Only Nixon can go to China,” and only a heterosexual pope confident in his own masculinity can normalize relations with gay Catholics.

    Hope this helps, Sweetie. Otherwise, you’re SOL.

  17. “The people who disagree with the pope on certain issues are the ones that need to meet with him the most”.
    Spot on! He’s not some fragile person. He’s undergone formation, training, lifelong study on various subjects of human life, taken on a celibate life and serving for a Kingdom not of this world. He is well aware of the persecutions and sufferings his predecessors have been subjected to. Even his Lord has warned those that follow will experience hardships. Pope is well aware of Peter wanting to be crucified upside down as he did not seem fit to die like his Master. I think Pope Francis, no matter how dearly we think of him as our Father and wish everyone else to show him the same respect we give, is tougher intellectually and emotionally. He’s the man needed for that situation.

  18. I’m going to allow this, because — if your statement is true — it provides useful information. However, the sarcasm and personal jibes are both unnecessary and out on line on this blog.

  19. No one compared gays to terrorists. The topic was White House hospitality to visiting heads of state. Extreme illustrations were used to illustrate the point being made.

  20. Sorry, but the Holy Father will see a representation of all Americans. He will meet the Pharisees as well as the harlot and the publican (Matt 21:31). Christ would have it no other way.

  21. Sweetie? Wow. That’s not the least bit condescending. Rebecca is a woman, what term might you have used if she were a man?

  22. Those who were drawn to Jesus seem to have recognized something in him that transcended what they experienced in their daily lives. He taught them, and they received his teaching, as One who had authority.
    As the gospels are written, Jesus came to save us from our sins. He didn’t come to tell us, “Nah, g’head, we’re cool”.
    To the woman caught in adultery he said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and sin no more”. Modernists insist that the only sin is judgementalism. We’re called to judge with righteous judgement.

  23. The sinners that Jesus welcomed came looking for forgiveness, healing – salvation. They didn’t show up with placards demanding that Jesus approve of their sinful lifestyle.

  24. I disagree. One thing that he will not see is a representation of normal Americans. From the politicians on, these people are activists with agendas. They actually have very little to do with lives of regular Americans.

  25. Why do gay advocates go to the “compared to” theme when it’s rather a clear cut matter of relevant factors? Are you looking for a rhetorical advantage, or honestly don’t understanding the logical fallacy into which you have fallen?

  26. You were doing OK until the last line.

    Except of course, that Pope Francis is very clear in his support for marriage being between a man and a woman and the right of children to have a mother and father. How that normalizes relations with gay advocates, I’m not sure.

  27. It’s true about New Ways Ministries. It’s also true that they have been called or on their homosexualist ideology. That’s no reason to be inhospitable at the Vatican, however.

  28. I work with a young woman who calls me “Sugah”, which makes me smile.

    But that’s a,totally different matter. 🙂

  29. 15,000 people were invited. This is hardly a one to onr meeting. Various groups were able to distribute tickets. It is totally appropriate for a variety of views and demographics to br included.

    15,000 people is the population of a small town. Is the pope actually incapable of being in the same town as people who might disagree with him. I don’t think he is that fragile.

  30. The guest includes “catholic leaders and parishioners from around the country, as well as representatives of other religions…” according to ABC news.

    And yes, some people who disagree with Catholic doctrine are invited. Why is this a problem? Do you approve of echo chambers, where no disagreement is permitted? Do you think our government should discriminate based on religion when issuing invitations?

    The Pope is meeting with the President and speaking to Congress. I’m confident he can handle a few dissenters in a crowd of 15,000.

  31. The IRA is a terrorist organization, so that may not be the best example.

    But America should not pander by only inviting those with matching beliefs.

  32. Welcome back Lark! Long time, no see.

    The question for me is hospitality. I’ve have the pleasure of representing the state of Oklahoma in other lands, and my hosts did everything they could to make me feel comfortable. Their hospitality was incredible. That certainly did not include inviting enemies of America and of my government to receptions and dinners.

    I am embarrassed by this guest list. It’s uncouth and reflects badly on America.

  33. I think our government should be a gracious host. I gather that concept is passe in certain circles, but that’s more a reflection on those circles than it is anything else.

  34. It sounds more like an audience than a reception. I’m sure Pope Francis will be gracious and holy in his response. I’m praying for conversions.

  35. Thanks.

    If this were a small indoor reception or the guest list for the state dinner I might agree with you. But I think the list to stand in a crowd of thousands and listen should be open without discrimination.

  36. I haven’t read anything about dissenters being invited to more intimate gatherings. That would be different.

    Likewise the guest list for an event in a church should be up to the church. But I would have a real problem with discrimination based on religious beliefs for a gathering of thousands on public property.

  37. I think you’re using the word “discrimination” a little too broadly. So far as I know, only kindergartners get to throw fits when they aren’t invited to a party.

    Having said that, the issue is courtesy and hospitality. It’s a matter of putting America’s best foot forward.

    As for Pope Francis, he’s such a kind and gentle man, I’m sure the warmth he radiates will hearten everyone. This isn’t the first time a head of state has been oafish with him.

  38. What I was getting at is that government actions don’t have a religious test. So while not every one gets to be invited, they also cannot limit attendence based on religion.

    I don’t see how inviting a variety of people to stand at a distance and listen is oafish.

  39. I’m not advocating a “religious test;” just common sense and courtesy.

    This really is off topic and I don’t want to go down a rabbit hole with it, but the idea that invitations to a party — even at the White House — must be subjected to some formula or other is not true, nor should it ever be.

  40. I’m an unabashed fan of the President, so I don’t mind asking out of ignorance, “when was the last time the President of the United States, and the Vice President and the First Lady, drove out and assembled on the tarmac of the airport to greet the Pope?”

  41. I think we are saying pretty much the same thing. No formula, but no automatic exclusions based on category rather than personal behavior either. “Only Xs” or “No Ys” would be wrong.

  42. What I’m saying is that the President of the United States owes it to the American people be a good host, and that includes inviting congenial guests to meet visiting heads of state, including the pope. The president is also the host in the country, unlike England where the duties of host and political head are divided between the queen and the prime minster.

  43. The President’s schedule as released to the media called for a 4:00pm Tarmac greeting. The tarmac greeting took place at 4:04pm.

  44. The point is that Obama would never invite these same types of guests if the head of Saudi Arabia or the Ayatollah Khomeini were the visiting dignitary. It is insulting for him to have done this to the Pope and everyone who embraces this faith. But Obama is a persistent narcissist who is very anti-Christian in every way and he probably had a grand time planning this fiasco.

  45. Even Breitbart says the Prez was on time. The plane circled b/c the Pope was early and he waited 2 minutes on the steps so his own press crew could get out the back door and be able to take pix of him descending. taking Every opp to bash a prez is fine but only true ones.