The White House said Sunday that Washington’s archbishop was invited to attend an event with President Donald Trump several days before it took place, amid media reports that the archbishop did not learn of the event until it was announced publicly the night before it took place.
White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere told CNA June 7 that “Archbishop Gregory received an invitation to the President’s event at the St. John Paul II Shrine the week prior to the President’s visit. He declined due to other commitments.”
Correspondence between Archbishop Wilton Gregory’s office and the White House indicates the same.
In correspondence dated May 30th and obtained by CNA, Gregory’s office declined “the kind invitation to attend the event celebrating International Religious Freedom on Tuesday, June 2, 2020 at the Saint John Paul II Shrine.“
The correspondence further stated that the archbishop had “a prior commitment on his schedule at Catholic University and unfortunately must decline,” and added that Gregory had personally conveyed his regrets at being unable to attend when he spoke to a member of the White House staff directly on the evening of Friday, May 29.
Crux reported June 7 that Gregory had not been told of the visit until June 1, when it was publicly announced by the White House.
On June 2, before Trump arrived at the John Paul II Shrine, Gregory issued a statement denouncing the visit.DC Archdiocese@WashArchdiocese
.@WashArchbishop Gregory has released a statement on the president’s visit to the Saint John Paul II National Shrine. https://adw.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2020/06/060220-ADW-Press-Release.pdf …
“I find it baffling and reprehensible that any Catholic facility would allow itself to be so egregiously misused and manipulated in a fashion that violates our religious principles, which call us to defend the rights of all people even those with whom we might disagree,” the archbishop wrote.