Thank you for the question. I appreciate your concern. First, however, some clarifications. Neither VP Joe Biden nor Nancy Pelosi is an abortionist. By their support for abortion, they are complicit. Also, the pope is installed, not inaugurated. That said, it is common practice for Heads of State, regardless of their religious affiliation, to be invited to an important papal event such as a funeral or installation. When Pope John Paul II passed away, both President Bush, his father and former President Clinton attended.
More than 200 heads of state and government delegates -- some bitter adversaries -- came together to pay their last respects. U.S. President George W. Bush was just yards away from President Mohammed Khatami of Iran, a country he has labeled part of an "axis of evil." Representatives of troubled neighbors -- India and Pakistan as well as Israel and the Palestinian National Authority -- were seated in the same section reserved for heads of state in St. Peter's Square. Israeli President Moshe Katsav and Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia were among the political leaders there who had met with the pope and, at times, had been praised and reproved by him. A senior Vatican official told reporters that "the funeral gave these leaders a sense of freedom. They were not afraid that people would read their actions politically." "I saw Israelis, Muslims who greeted each other with gestures of affection,"he said.
Iranian President Mohammad Khatami (second row, second from right) and Afghan President Hamid Karzai (front row, left) look on with other heads of state and government and political representatives as the coffin of Pope John Paul II was carried away.
Government officials who attend these events are keenly aware of the Catholic Church's position on moral issues and it can be quite uncomfortable to be at such an event. Take for example, the funeral of NY Cardinal John O'Connor in 2000. O'Connor was a bold preacher on the sanctity of human life. The funeral, broadcast live nationwide, was attended by then president Clinton and vice president Gore, their wives and numerous dignitaries including NYC Mayor Giuliani. At one point in the sermon, O'Connor's hand picked homilist said, "What a great legacy he has left us in his constant reminder that the Church must always be unambiguously pro- life."
There was a beat and then applause broke out. It grew louder, increasing as the cameras fixed on the Clinton-Gore party showing them on screens throughout the cathedral. Cardinal Law attempted to quiet the crowd with his hand, when suddenly the congregation began to stand up, applauding in a wave that moved from the back of the church to the front. If it hadn't been a funeral they would have cheered. It was a defiant, pivotal moment. Then the bishops and cardinals in the sanctuary stood up. The elder George Bush stood up applauding, as did his son somewhere off camera. The camera panned back to the Clinton- Gore party who looked bemused and bewildered. Having no water glasses to reach for as they did in 1994 when Mother Teresa received a thunderous ovation for telling the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington that there could be no peace as long as a mother could kill the child in her womb, Clinton leaned back and started whispering in Hillary's ear. Gore's face was as blank, flat and white as a sheet of paper. Behind them another abortion "rights" supporter, Rudy Giuliani, began to applaud, albeit weakly, and stood. And lest they be the only ones left seated, the Clintons and Gores lamely stood up but refrained from applauding.
I'm not Catholic but I do not like this one little bit.
Dear friend, their attendance at this installation will not alter the policy of the Catholic Church vis a vis the political views of any government. With so many political dignitaries in attendance, they are the ones on the hot seat. Here is a link to an article posted yesterday that will give you some insight into how the new pontiff addressed moral issues in the past.
We, as christians, must pray for these political figures and ask God to open their hearts to the truth. Trust in God! You never know how those hearts may be converted, especially at the end of life. God bless you for your witness!
Thank you for the detailed reply NYer.