From the Dallas Morning News Religion Blog:
8:36 AM Sat, Apr 12, 2008 | Permalink
By Bruce Tomaso
President Bush will greet Pope Benedict XVI at Andrews Air Force Base when the pontiff arrives in Washington on Tuesday. The president will also host a formal greeting the next morning on the South Lawn of the White House. And the two will confer in the Oval Office.
But Benedict has no plans to attend a dinner that President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush are hosting in his honor Wedesday night.
Here's the story by Deb Reichmann of the Associated Press.
"U.S. Catholic leaders from around the nation will attend," she writes. "The menu will offer Bavarian-style food in recognition of the pope's German heritage. It's even the pope's 81st birthday. But he won't be there."
The Vatican strongly opposed the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. And the church opposes capital punishment. No state in the union executed more convicts than Texas when Bush was governor.
At a press briefing Friday in Crawford, Texas, White House spokesman Scott Stanzel offered no explanation for the pope's decision to skip the dinner -- a dinner being thrown in his honor. Here's an excerpt:
Q. Scott, just to clarify, for the Pope's visit to the White House, you said that now there's a dinner in the East Room in honor of the Pope.
MR. STANZEL: Yes.
Q Will the Pope actually be attending that dinner?
MR. STANZEL: I don't believe so, no.
Q Okay, thank you. ...
Q I'm sorry, the Pope doesn't attend a dinner in his honor?
MR. STANZEL: No.
Q How does that work?
MR. STANZEL: He doesn't come into the building.
Q But then it's not a dinner for the Pope, is it?
MR. STANZEL: It's in honor of his visit. There will be leaders from the Catholic community from all over the country who are in town for that visit.
Q Is there a reason the Pope doesn't attend the dinner?
MR. STANZEL: I don't know. I don't have the full extent of his schedule.
A spokesperson for the first lady said the pope is "on a very ambitious official schedule" during his time in Washington, and plans to meet with U.S. bishops on the night of the dinner.
But surely if Benedict wanted to, he could find time to break bread with the president of the United States.No?