KJP: The Vatican told Biden not to come to Benedict XVI funeral

Source: Hot Air

Er … what? And I mean this in more ways than one. Karine Jean-Pierre got braced yesterday afternoon on Joe Biden’s plans for the funeral of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, which will take place tomorrow. Jean-Pierre announced that the Vatican had requested that the self-proclaimed “devout Catholic” president not attend. That request apparently came from the late Pope Emeritus … or whatever KJP was trying to call him (via Twitchy):

Ahem. “Emeritus” is not pronounced “em-er-EYE-tis.” It’s pronounced “eh-MAIR-eh-tus,” or if you want the strict Latin pronunciation, “ay-MAIR-ee-toos.” One would think that a properly prepared press secretary would know that already, or even anyone who has any exposure to ecclesial, academic, or judicial environments — all of which make regular usage of the word “emeritus.”

Here’s the transcript otherwise:

Q Pope Benedict — his funeral is Thursday. The late Pope Benedict, his funeral is Thursday. Is the U.S. sending a delegation to Rome, do you know?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, let me just first say — because we haven’t been able to be on the record on this since the passing of the Pope.

So, as the President said in his statement, as I’m sure you saw, he joins Catholics and so many others around the world in mourning the passing of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. He will always remember the Pope’s generosity and meaningful conversation they had when he visited the Vatican in 2011.

So, to answer your question, the U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, Joe Donnelly, will represent the United States at the funeral of the Pope, in line with the wishes of the late Pope and the Vatican. This is what — this is what their requests were. This is what their wishes were. And so, that’s what you’re seeing from the U.S.

Did the Vatican snub Biden? Not exactly, although they may wonder whether certain members of his administration need a refresher course on Latin. The funeral for Benedict XVI will be a “simple, somber” affair, as the Holy See announced after his death. Only two national delegations have been invited to attend, although other leaders may choose to attend informally, reports Catholic News Agency:

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni told reporters that “following the wishes of the pope emeritus, the funeral will be held under the sign of simplicity,” stressing that it will be a “solemn but sober funeral.”

“The express request on the part of the emeritus pope is that everything be simple, both with regard to the funeral as well as the other celebrations and gestures during this time of pain,” he added.

While only two state delegations were officially invited to attend the funeral Mass for the pope emeritus, some heads of state and public figures have decided to attend the funeral in an unofficial capacity.

Poland’s President Andrzej Duda, Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala, and Slovenian President Nataša Pirc Musar are among those who have already confirmed their attendance at Benedict XVI’s funeral in an unofficial capacity.

European royals Queen Sofia of Spain and King Philip and Queen Mathilde of Belgium are also planning to attend.

This still raises the question, though, as to whether Biden’s responding to a lack of invitation or a specific request not to attend. The other world leaders have chosen to be present without a specific invitation, and apparently the Vatican isn’t objecting to their presence. Jean-Pierre’s statement makes it sound as though the Vatican went beyond a no-official-invite approach to an explicit request that Biden not show up in any capacity.

If that’s the case, then this is a snub. However, I’d guess more that Jean-Pierre fumbled the messaging as badly as she fumbled the pronunciation. The Vatican has no reason to snub Biden, not even over the abortion issue, and has plenty of reasons to keep the connections open to the current White House. Biden’s a key ally on climate change for Pope Francis, not to mention a critical leader if the pope wants to broker a peace deal in Ukraine. The Holy See has kept the US Conference of Catholic Bishops on a tight leash when it comes to Biden for several reasons. A snub like this would be not just out of character, but a petty one considering the circumstances.

Most likely, the White House is simply taking the no-invitation approach at face value and sending the diplomatic representative on site to handle the duties. The other leaders are in much closer proximity and have their own reasons for informal attendance. The only real issue here is likely that Biden needs to make Jean-Pierre a Press Secretary Emeritus as soon as possible.