Pope Francis’ upcoming visit the U.S. has been making all kinds of headlines, and not all of them favorable.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the Vatican has “taken offense” at the Obama Administration’s guest list for the Pope’s visit to the White House—which includes transgender activists, a retired gay Episcopal bishop and an activist nun who doesn’t tow the Church’s line on abortion and contraception.
“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,” writes the WSJ.
The official welcoming event for Pope Francis will be held on the White House’s South Lawn on the morning September 22, his Eminence’s first full day in the U.S.
Among those at the event will be Sister Simone Campbell, who leads Network, a self-described “Catholic social justice lobby.” Campbell supported the approval of the Affordable Care Act even though it required employers to cover contraception.
Also attending is retired Bishop Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church.
Mateo Williamson, who previously lead the transgender caucus of the LGBT Catholic group Dignity USA, will be attending as a guest of trans activist Vivian Taylor.
“This is really not so much of a political statement as it is the reality that there are so many LGBT Catholics and family members of LGBT people who would really benefit from this message coming from the White House,” said Williamson.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters this week not to draw conclusions about the invitation of any specific guests “because there will be 15,000 other people there, too.”
Of course, President Obama has used seminal public events to bring attention to LGBT rights before—inviting out athletes like Billie Jean King and Brian Boitano to be part of the official U.S. envoy to the Sochi Olympics in 2014.