Welcom to the United States, Papa Francisco! So sorry that some of our bird-brained citizens have taken it upon themselves to sully the timbre of your visit with a conflagration of lies unworthy of the goodwill you intended with your visit here…
I’ve written several times on this blog site about being a discernment warrior and the necessity of investigative vetting when confronted by the myriad social tropes and the bombardment of social media opinions we endure on a daily basis. Here is an example of what I mean…
In regards to Pope Francis’s 2015 visit to the United States, the Washington Post stated in an editorial dated Saturday, September 18, 2015 that, “The Vatican raised objections to a few of the guests invited to the White House arrival ceremony next week for Pope Francis.” The editorial referred, in turn, to an editorial by the Wall Street Journal, which made the same claim. The opinion seems to have conflagrated as the result of an ex-priest who made his own outrage known on the Breitbart.com website, a neo-conservative conspiracy-theorist website devoted to the excoriation of President Barack Obama.
That the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post would give any credence to a website that has been repeatedly accused of false premise and dubious obfuscation of the truth is an atrocity in itself. That they would mislead the nation, knowing the sinister power of media to spread innuendo and deceptive rhetoric, is unconscionable. One can’t help but consider that the editorial staff at those media institutions are no better than the obstructionist members of the majority party in the Congressional House of Representatives who have made it their sole mission to denounce the Obama presidency by blocking all legislation proposed by the administration, if for no other reason than that one of their own party members is not sitting in his place. It seems rather shameful to wreak havoc, tell lies, and stomp one’s feet simply because one hasn’t gotten one’s way.
How do I know that the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal told untruths concerning the Vatican’s approval or disapproval of the guest list? Because someone at the Religion News Service and a regular reporter for the National Catholic Reporter did some actual footwork to check on the details of the editorials, and—what do you know—turns out there’s not much weight to any of the claims…
“An unnamed Vatican official” supposedly made the condemnation. But an unnamed source is not able to be vetted, or able to be fact checked. It is hearsay. Thus, when the question was directly posed to the Vatican, “a Vatican spokesman—[Fr. Thomas Rosica of the Vatican Press Bureau]—in fact noted that the Holy See does not as a matter of course comment on such matters.” He further confirmed that the Vatican had released no statement concerning the White House guest list.
In actuality it appears that the accusatory blog on the Breitbart.com site was written by Thomas Williams—someone who lives in his own rather fragile glass house to be making such unwholesome accusations. According to the National Catholic Reporter article, “Williams is a vulnerable messenger for such a critique: He was a priest of a secretive and influential religious order, the Legionaries of Christ, a longtime favorite of the Catholic right, which the Vatican has been trying to overhaul after revelations of lurid sex and money scandals…He later left the priesthood to marry a woman—the daughter of Mary Ann Glendon, a conservative Catholic law professor and ambassador to the Holy See under President Bush—with whom he’d secretly had a child while he was still a cleric.”
This gets to the hypocrisy of so much of conservative rhetoric. What right—or viability—does a person have who has broken his vows of celibacy and obedience to condemn others for a perceived sin? Likewise, what right does a woman have who has been married four times, and who conceived and birthed twin children through an adulterous affair, to deny anyone else the legal access to a government-issued marriage license? Such egregious and dumbfounding conundrums can sometimes only be understood in the ridiculous light in which they are illuminated… in other words, sometimes all one can do is laugh at the stupidity of it all—if it weren’t so hurtful in its stupidity…
Unfortunately, the public is now allowed to have an opinion about the guest list at the White House reception for Pope Francis. Not that it’s any of their business—it ain’t their party. President Obama and his administration are allowed to invite whoever the heck they wanna invite… it’s their party. Remind me next time you have a party at your house, and make sure to send me a list of the invitees so that I can criticize your choices. (Um, yes that would be ridiculous; and yes, that was snidely facetious.)
It reminds me of the time that the Obamas had a Halloween party at the White House, and were roundly criticized for hiring two tarot readers to the event as a kind of fun party favor for the guests. “Not becoming of a Christian president,” their critics complained. (I suppose we should be grateful that they remembered he was a Christian and not a Muslim, as some people obviously still—erroneously—believe!) But it turns out that the Obamas paid for the tarot readers with their own money… at their own party… and nobody died… and the country didn’t fall into the hands of Beelzebub or get smote with plagues or famine.
So at this party, the Obamas are being criticized for inviting—gasp!—a gay person. (OMG.) And a nun committed to eliminating poverty. (Holy habits, Batman!) And Bishop Gene Robinson (Gay AND not even a Catholic! HarrumpH!!) And those three individuals must be awfully atrocious because somehow they were not to be overshadowed by the 14,998 other attendees who will be at the event. Goodness gracious, if someone happens to bump into any of the three of them in that vast haystack of a crowd, don’t forget to throw holy water on them so that they melt. (Again, facetious…)
The Washington Post has tried to twist their criticism into a seeming slight by Obama made towards the Pope as a foreign dignitary, noting that the White House would never fathom inviting Chinese dissidents to an event where the Chinese President Xi Jinping was a guest of honor (Xi Jinping is slated to be at the White House next week), so why should the Pope be confronted by Catholic dissidents?
Um, perhaps the Post hasn’t been paying attention to what Pope Francis has been saying since he was elected by his peers as the Bishop of Rome.
Perhaps the Washington Post just doesn’t really get it—what it really means to be a Catholic Christian—or even simply a compassionate human being willing to extend mercy and respect to a diverse array of people—as Pope Francis is trying to teach us.
Is it a greater sin to be a gay person striving to understand God, or a nun who drives around the country preaching about income inequality, or an Anglican bishop who has received death threats because his dream was to spread the word of God? Or is it a greater sin to withhold one’s mercy from any of those people, insinuate and perpetuate their [supposed] sinfulness to the masses, and project the false ire of a Pope in a public newspaper?
Be a discernment warrior in your judgments.