An array of individuals who have served as political allies to President Obama will be on hand to greet Pope Francis when he arrives at the White House later this month.
The Associated Press reports that among those confirmed guests for the reception in the Pope’s honor are Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the liberal National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, which has pushed for amnesty for illegal immigrants, and Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop of that church, who is now on staff at the liberal Center for American Progress.
Also invited is Sister Simone Campbell, who heads the dissident “Nuns on the Bus” Catholic social justice advocacy group. In 2012, Campbell appeared on The Colbert Report and was a primetime speaker at the Democrat National Convention, despite the fact that the DNC openly promoted abortion and same-sex marriage, which are against the teachings of the Catholic Church.
“I think it’s so important that the pope is visiting because his global message is especially important for the United States,” said Campbell, who is also expected to be present for Pope Francis’ speech to a joint meeting of Congress. “His message of changing our throwaway culture and to address the crisis of exploitation is really the key to changing our world to be more inclusive in the economy and more caretaking about the earth — and a lot of this policy starts in the US.”
The White House has also invited evangelical megachurch pastor Rev. Joel Hunter, who, according to AP, is a spiritual adviser to Obama, and Imam Mohamed Magid, who heads the All Dulles Area Muslim Society, a mosque in the Washington, D.C., area.
Aaron Ledesma, a gay Catholic blogger who attributes his return to the Church to Pope Francis, is also a confirmed guest.
Following the reception on the South Lawn of the White House, Obama is expected to speak privately with Pope Francis about the environment, welcoming illegal immigrants, and religious freedom.