Retired Bishop of New Hampshire Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church, is one of the White House papal visit guests over whom the Vatican has expressed concern. Bishop Robinson responded by writing an open letter to the Pope, which can be read in its entirety at The Daily Beast.
There has been a bit of a kerfuffle in the last 24 hours due to reports that a senior Vatican official is offended, on your behalf, by my invitation to the White House on Wednesday to welcome you to America. Sister Simone Campbell, one of the nuns working day in and day out on behalf of the poor, is lumped in with me as a purported offense to you.
Based on your saintly ministry so far as Pope, I have to suspect that this report does not represent your own views (if this has even been brought to your attention), but rather the views of those who would try to “protect” you from the world. It would seem that I hold a higher view of you than some of your handlers who may have forgotten that you have demonstrated quite regularly not only your knowledge of the real world, but also a compassion for it. Not to mention that the good nun and I will be somewhere in the middle of a throng of 10,000+ Americans joining together to welcome you and wish you well.
Robinson calls himself “a laborer in another part of the vineyard,” emphasizing the points of ministry and theology he and Pope Francis both share:
Our churches disagree on those whom we are willing to ordain, their gender and their sexual orientation. Still, that does not keep me from striving to love and serve those entrusted to me, and to pray for you as you strive to love and serve those entrusted to you. We both care passionately about the poor, and we share the notion that unfettered capitalism creates and perpetuates poverty, treating the less fortunate as goods to be used up and discarded.