Fired gay teacher hopes to challenge Pope during White House visit
A Roman Catholic teacher fired over her same-sex marriage says she has been invited to the White House to help welcome Pope Francis.
Margie Winters said she hopes the religious leader will address issues facing LGBT Catholics during his visit to the US later this week.
Ms Winters – a school teacher from Philadelphia – claims she was asked to resign from her job when parents of her pupils found out she was a lesbian.
She argues that the Catholic school she worked for knew she was a lesbian and still gave her the job – requesting she did not discuss her sexuality with parents or kids, a rule by which she says she abided.
The teacher hopes to ask Pope Francis to extend his message of inclusion to LGBT Catholics – something he is yet to do.
She says her invitation came through the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT advocacy group.
Thousands of people from diverse social and religious backgrounds are expected to attend the welcoming ceremony on Wednesday on the South Lawn.
The Catholic leader is set to touch down in Washington DC on Wednesday – but the Vatican is reportedly upset with the guest list for the event, after Obama invited LGBT figures including retired Episcopal bishop Gene Robinson.
Bishop Robinson made history as the world’s first openly gay Episcopal bishop back in 2004, and remains active though he officially retired in 2013.
Homophobic charity head Franklin Graham has claimed that Barack Obama is pushing a “sinful agenda” by inviting a Bishop Robinson, Ms Winters and others to the monumental event.
Despite an early ‘who am I to judge’ PR blitz attempting to bolster his image, the Pope is yet to lift any of the actively homophobic and transphobic policies of his predecessors.
Proposals to ‘reach out’ to gay people were scrapped by the Church last year – and despite suggestions that the plans would return at a 2015 Synod, it soon became clear the Church has no plans to discuss the matter again.
The Pope has also increasingly rallied against same-sex marriage, inviting representatives from listed hate groups to a ‘traditional marriage’ conference, urging Slovakians to vote against equal marriage, which he claims “disfigures God’s creation”.
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