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The White House is responding to Washington, D.C. archbishop Wilton Gregory's letter on the president's visit to Saint John Paul II Shrine in D.C., the day after the controversial stroll over to the fire-bombed St. John's Church.
Gregory's statement could be easily interpreted that he did not know about the President's scheduled visit to the Shrine because he never mentions it.
But in a statement from the White House to Church Militant, it's clear he did know, days before: "Abp. Gregory received an invitation to the president's event at the Saint John Paul II Shrine the week prior to the president's visit. He declined due to other commitments."
Likewise, subsequent media reports also show the invitation from the Knights of Columbus for the presidential visit had been issued months prior.
Yet even though he was aware of the visit well in advance, Gregory issued his statement attacking Trump and drawing a false connection to the impromptu visit to St. John's Church the day before.
"I find it baffling and reprehensible that any Catholic facility would allow itself to be so egregiously misused and manipulated in a fashion that violates our religious principles," Gregory said.
He added — deceptively, critics say — "Saint Pope John Paul II ... would not condone the use of tear gas and other deterrents to silence, scatter or intimidate them for a photo opportunity."
The initial media reports of tear gas being used by Secret Service to clear out protestors have been proven totally false, as Secret Service, as well as park police, denied tear gas was used. Yet in the face of the denials, Gregory still treated the falsehood as fact in his statement.
Why the archbishop felt the need to issue a misleading or incomplete statement remains uncertain. Neither his office nor the archdiocese has responded to media inquiries as of press time.
Abp. Gregory: "This is awful. This is the use of a sacred place to be used as a political ploy ... ."