Margie Winters and her wife, Andrea Vettori, have been hoping for months to speak with Pope Francis during his visit to America.
On Wednesday, the couple will take a big step forward toward that goal in a high-profile venue.
Winters, who was fired from Waldron Mercy Academy in Merion Station [a suburban Philadelphia Catholic school] in late June after two parents of students complained about her same-sex marriage, has been invited with Vettori to the White House for Wednesday’s arrival ceremony for the Bishop of Rome and leader of their faith.
Said the Philadelphia Catholic reader, a pro-life Catholic Democrat who sent this item: “Why doesn’t he just come out and say, ‘[deleted] you, Archbishop Chaput’?”
Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput praised the school for dismissing Winters, but said he did not orchestrate her firing.
(In talking to legal experts about the next battles in the religious liberty war, they have told me that churches running religious schools and institutions are going to have to start drawing strong lines and enforcing them now, or they are going to lose future court battles.)
The Washington Post editorial board the other day noticed that Obama is inviting high-profile Catholic dissenters and fellow travelers to the papal reception, but not applying the same standard to other heads of state coming to the White House:
No doubt there’s often a fine balance between hospitality and principle when foreign visitors come to town. The administration doesn’t want to give offense, but it also doesn’t want to give in to what it may see as prejudices that it doesn’t share.
What struck us as we read about this small controversy is the contrast between the administration’s apparent decision to risk a bit of rudeness in the case of the pope and its overwhelming deference to foreign dictators when similar issues arise. When Secretary of State John F. Kerry traveled to Havana to reopen the U.S. Embassy recently, he painstakingly excluded from the guest list any democrat, dissident or member of civil society who might offend the Castro brothers.
And when Chinese President Xi Jinping comes to the White House next week, shortly after the pope leaves town, it’s a safe bet that he won’t have to risk being photographed with anyone of whom he disapproves.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the Vatican is worried that the White House is inviting high-profile LGBT guests to this occasion to pit the Pope against the Church’s own teachings in the public eye:
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.
The tension exemplifies concerns among conservative Catholics, including many bishops, that the White House will use the pope’s visit to play down its differences with church leaders on such contentious issues as same-sex marriage and the contraception mandate in the health care law.
Who, exactly, is waging culture war on whom here?