The arrival of Pope Francis in the U.S today has stirred some controversy among conservatives, due to the guest list assembled by the Obama Administration. The guest list has drawn criticisms stating that the president should not have invited people with conflicting beliefs on abortion, same-sex marriage, and gay clergy.
The Washington Post reports that both the Vatican and the White House have downplayed the differences of belief among guests. Guests include a transgender rights leader, a gay Catholic blogger, and the first openly gay Episcopal bishop.
Previously Pope Francis has met with gay and lesbian Catholics, and has stated that he will refrain from judging them.
Neither the White House nor the Vatican have denied discussions about the guest list. An unnamed source who was allegedly involved with the planning stated that there was a cleared up misunderstanding and there would be diverse views among guests.
When asked if there was any issue with the guests, Vatican spokesperson Rev. Federico Lombardi emailed The Washington Post saying,”I can only say that the invitations are the responsibility of the White House. There has been no official statement from the Vatican on this issue.”
Conservatives have criticized Obama and the White House for the choice in guests. An unnamed Vatican source also expressed concern saying that any photos taken with the pope during the event could be wrongfully interpreted as endorsement of the controversial attendees activities.
Aaron Ledesma, author of blog The Gay Catholic, one of the chosen attendees, says about the guest list, and those condemning it “…what Pope Francis is going to see is America and that’s a nation of diversity.”