The White House announced earlier today that Georgetown’s very own President Jack DeGioia will be part of the exclusive presidential delegation to attend the mass for the inauguration of the Pontificate of His Holiness Pope Francis. The Mass begins at 9:30 a.m. local time on Tuesday, on the feast of St. Joseph.
Leading the delegation will be Vice President Joe Biden, whose relationship with Catholic Church hierarchy remains strained after, you know, being pro-choice and all. Some bishops have gone so far as to say that Biden shouldn’t receive Catholic communion. Also, the contraception mandate kind of riled up that whole group of people.
Among the other Catholics in the delegation is former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, herself quite pro-choice as well. When she met with Pope Benedict in 2009, he reportedly took the time to lecture her on her duty as a Catholic to use her political clout to limit the use of abortion. “His Holiness took the opportunity to speak of the requirements of the natural moral law and the Church’s consistent teaching on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death which enjoin all Catholics, and especially legislators,” the Vatican wrote. For her part, Pelosi shrugged it off and emphasized their discussion about poverty and climate change.
The inclusion of Republican New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez makes the delegation bipartisan. Unlike the rest of the delegates, the pro-life Martinez’s reputation remains untarnished in the Church. Sitting Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner declined the White House’s invitation, citing the need to focus on his work in D.C. and (probably) to avoid another opportunity for public crying.
The mild-mannered DeGioia has been somewhat of a controversial figure among Catholics and conservatives especially. An entire blog is dedicated to cataloging all of Georgetown’s purported aberrations from good Catholic teaching, which isn’t even to mention the famous alum who wants to get Georgetown’s status as a Catholic university revoked. The Cardinal Newman Society has taken out GeorgetownScandal.com at various points in time to organize petitions against University actions, such as its decision to invite the pro-choice graduation speaker Kathleen Sebelius.
While it’s fitting that the president of the first Jesuit university in the United States will attend the inaugural mass of the first Jesuit Pontiff, with such a controversial group of people, there’s bound to be some awkward conversations. It doesn’t help things since the last time Pope came to D.C. in 2008, Benedict snubbed Georgetown for a visit, instead, to Catholic University.
Photo: Hilary Nakasone/Georgetown Voice