Many of the publicly righteous (notably Franklin Graham, but Rush Limbaugh should not be overlooked as he dislikes that) have increasingly rent their garments in public, at east vocally, over the composition of the guest list for the White House dinner being laid out for the pope when he visits next week. The pope, so far as I know, hasn’t said anything, although some of the Vatican minions have shred a few robes in the press. An activist nun? A gay (Anglican) bishop?
Somehow, I doubt that this pope would mind much, and might in fact enjoy the company. After all, he does tend to follow precedent – as do all those righteous indignators in their indignation. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all relate the same incident, and Jesus later had some choice remarks to make about his choice of table companions:
And as he sat at dinner in Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were also sitting with Jesus and his disciples– for there were many who followed him. When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, they said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard this, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.” (Mark 2:15-17)
This was no one-off. Jesus had a reputation for keeping bad company:
Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So he told them this parable: “Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. (Luke 15:1-5)
No, the pope will be just fine. In fact, he’ll probably enjoy the company immensely. And no doubt be criticized for that, too. Just like his Master.