Vatican 'offended' after White House invites LGBT guests to attend Pope Francis' visit
There is growing tension between the Vatican and Washington over Pope Francis’ trip to the White House next week after a leaked guest list revealed a number of LGBT people would attend the visit.
Vatican officials are said to be offended by the guest list, and opponents of President Barack Obama have accused him of trying to use the papal visit to put pressure on the Pope over social issues including same-sex marriage and abortion.
On Wednesday, Pope Francis will be greeted by Mr Obama and thousands of guests including Mateo Williamson, a transgender Catholic, and Vivian Taylor, a transgender Episcopalian.
It is understood the Vatican was not consulted over the guest list and a senior official voiced concerns to the Wall Street Journal that there are fears that if the Pope is photographed with LGBT guests it could be viewed as him endorsing their positions.
Bishop Gene Robinson, who was the first openly gay Episcopal bishop in the US, has also been invited.
As has Sister Simone Campbell, a nun who in 2010 wrote a letter to the US Congress backing Mr Obama's health reforms despite objections from Catholic groups that they could provide funding for abortion and contraception.
Ahead of his arrival in the US, Pope Francis is continuing his four-day trip to Cuba which included a half-hour meeting with former leader Fidel Castro on Sunday.
On Monday the Pope prayed at Cuba's most revered Catholic shrine – a move seen by many as an attempt to revive faith on the Caribbean island after decades in which the Church was driven underground by the Communist regime.