FFRF protests pope invites

FFRF called on U.S. Reps. John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi to withdraw their invitation to Pope Francis to address Congress, in part over the pope’s decision to harbor a Vatican official accused of sexually preying on minors.

FFRF previously contacted two mayors asking them to withdraw the red carpet to the pope based on the constitutional separation of religion from government. FFRF contacted Green Bay (Wis.) Mayor Jim Schmitt after he invited the pope to make a “pilgrimage” in 2015 to a local Virgin Mary shrine, and St. Augustine, Fla., Mayor Joseph Boles, who invited Francis to celebrate the “birthplace of Christianity in the New World, specifically Catholicism.” The “birth” of Catholicism there included two incidents in which French settlers who failed to convert to Catholicism were ordered slaughtered by St. Augustine Catholic founder Pedro Menendez de Aviles.

FFRF Co-Presidents Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor sent a letter to U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Speaker of the House John Boehner in late September, asking them to rescind their joint invitation to the pope, issued in March. If he accepts, Pope Francis would become the first pontiff to address U.S. lawmakers at the U.S. Capitol.

FFRF objected on state/church separation grounds and because of the exorbitant security costs, as well as the show of preference for Catholicism over other religions and nonreligion.

FFRF also lodged vigorous objections to the pope’s decision to harbor papal nuncio Archbishop Józef Wesolowski, who stands accused of using impoverished Dominican Republic minors for sex. A riveting exposé by reporter Laurie Goodstein in the Aug. 23 New York Times revealed the Vatican’s role in protecting the pope’s personal envoy, despite his assurances of “zero tolerance” for clergy who molest children.

Wesolowski was recalled to the Vatican before local authorities could investigate the charges, which include trading medication for sex with a 13-year-old epileptic boy.

Freedom From Religion Foundation