After the Vatican protested President Obama’s guest list for next week’s papal reception because it was packed with a rogue’s gallery of opponents of Catholic teaching, retired Episcopal bishop Gene Robinson published an “open letter” to the Pope in which he pleads his case for attending the welcoming ceremony.
Bishop Robinson, who made history by becoming the first openly gay episcopal bishop in 2003 and subsequently the first to divorce his gay partner in 2014 (after having previously separated from his wife of 14 years) tells Francis of his deep respect for him, insisting that we “have so much that binds us together, and so little that separates us.”
The Bishop also voices his suspicion that the Vatican’s complaint represents “the views of those who would try to ‘protect’ you from the world” rather than those of Francis himself.
In his plea for inclusiveness, however, Bishop Robinson misses the whole point of the Vatican’s irritation at the White House guest list.
The President and his staff showed tremendous disrespect for the Pope by intentionally inviting a series of individuals who publicly thumb their noses at Catholic teaching, including a pro-abortion religious sister, a transgender woman and at least two Catholic gay activists, along with Bishop Robinson. Moreover, they were invited precisely because of their anti-Catholic positions.
The White House did not invite Bishop Robinson to the papal reception because of his scintillating wit or charismatic personality, but because he is a notoriously gay cleric. The White House is throwing an openly gay bishop into the Pope’s face, since the Catholic Church does not ordain openly gay men as bishops. This is a political statement.
It was only after Breitbart News publicized the discordant tone of the Obama guest list that the Holy See reacted by expressing its disapproval. In doing so, it made known its concern that any photos of the pope with these guests at the White House ceremony might be misconstrued as an endorsement of their activities.
The White House was infamously illuminated in gay pride colors on June 26, 2015, after the Supreme Court made gay marriage the law of the land.
Maybe Bishop Robinson doesn’t mind being instrumentalized in this way, but it is understandable why the Vatican finds it deeply offensive.
Indeed, if the good Bishop were really interested in meeting with the Pope rather than making a political statement, he could just as easily see him privately, rather than under the bright lights and ready cameras of the White House.
The same is true of the other dissenters invited by the White House.
Vivian Taylor was invited because he is a 30-year-old male transvestite who until last March was Executive Director of Integrity USA, a gay and transgender activist wing of the Episcopal Church. This is his sole claim to fame and the reason for his invitation.
“A few months ago I received an invitation from the White House to attend the reception for Pope Francis,” Taylor told CNS News. “I was told I could bring several friends with me,” adding that he is “glad we can bring some LGBT representation to the event.”
Mateo Williamson was invited to the White House event because she is a cross-dressing woman and former co-chairman of the Transgender Caucus for Dignity USA. Williamson says that though she now thinks of herself as a man, she continues to be attracted to males. “Today I identify as a gay man and before that was difficult to understand because I thought that in order to be transgender, in order to be a transgender male that I had to be attracted to females but I never have throughout my entire life.”
The White House invited Sister Simone Campbell to the papal reception because she publicly opposed the U.S. bishops when Obama’s Affordable Care Act was originally being debated, and because she fought to undermine their pro-life and conscience concerns. Campbell is the pro-abortion executive director of the social justice lobby NETWORK.
In 2012, Sister Campbell spearheaded the first “Nuns on the Bus” tour to protest proposed cuts in federal spending on social services.
The presence of these individuals—selected from among the 320 million Americans—has a symbolic value that the President is fully aware of. He is perfectly acting out the pro-gay script drafted by the LGBT activists for media coverage of the Pope’s visit.
Out of all possible guests to meet the Pope, why did the Obama Administration choose Mr. Taylor, Ms. Williamson, Bishop Robinson and Sr. Campbell? Simply because they loudly represent positions contrary to the thinking of the Catholic Church on sexual morality.
And Bishop Robinson wonders why the Vatican finds this offensive?
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome