Vatican officials are upset that the White House has invited a number of prominent Catholic dissenters to attend a reception for Pope Francis, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
Citing unidentified Vatican officials, Francis Rocca of the Wall Street Journal said that Church leaders were offended by a guest list that includes “transgender activists, the first openly gay Episcopal bishop and an activist nun who leads a group criticized by the Vatican for its silence on abortion and euthanasia.”
The Obama administration, which has a long history of promoting Catholics who reject Church teachings, has made public a list of invited guests that includes representatives of groups such as Dignity USA and Network—groups whose stands on homosexuality and abortion have drawn official cautions from the Vatican.
Vatican officials were reportedly concerned that photos taken during the reception on the South Lawn of the White House, showing the Pontiff in company with prominent figures who have attacked Church teachings, might be exploited to imply that the Pope was supporting the dissenters’ views.
The White House downplayed the importance of the Wall Street Journal report. Press secretary Josh Earnest remarked that there would be as many as 15,000 people at the welcoming ceremony.
The Vatican has not issued any official statement on the Journal report. Father Thomas Rosica, who works closely with the Vatican press office, pointed out on his Twitter account: “Vatican never comments on invitations of heads of state.”