The Americans are sending Vice President, Joe Biden to the Papal Inauguration, German Chancellor Angela Mercal is going, and so is Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and the EU President Herman Van Rompuy.
VATICAN CITY - The Roman Catholic Church will roll out the red carpet for world leaders and crowned heads attending the inauguration Mass Tuesday of Pope Francis as he embarks on a ground-breaking papacy.
The occasion promises to contrast with the pomp and circumstance normally associated with grand Church occasions given the disarmingly humble style the new pope has shown in his first few days as the first Latin American leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics.
An event that poses an inevitable protocol headache for the Vatican -- no official invitations are involved, and some VIPs may turn up unannounced -- will also be a first test of the former Buenos Aires archbishop's ability to navigate choppy diplomatic waters.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and his French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault are among key European leaders expected to attend, along with EU President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission head Jose Manuel Barosso.
US Vice President Joe Biden, a practising Catholic, arrived late Sunday to represent Washington at the event precipitated by the shock resignation of Francis's predecessor Benedict XVI.
Argentine President Cristina Kirchner, with whom the former Jorge Mario Bergoglio, as Buenos Aires archbishop, has had tense relations because of opposing views on homosexuality and birth control, is also already in Rome.
Not bad. I do remember when Pope John Paul II died, just watching the sheer number of world leaders who turned up, including American President George W. Bush and even ex-Presidents, Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush.
Did NZ Prime Minister, Helen Clark go? I don't recall. No, according to Wikipedia, only the Governor General, Dame Silvia Cartwright and her husband went.
I would have thought our Prime Minister, who seems to turn up at every Big Gay Out in New Zealand might like to head off to Rome to rub shoulders with a number of the world leaders, but strangely enough, he's only sending Chris Finlayson. Does it not fit with John Key's image to attend a Papal Inauguration? Probably not as he's championing a same-sex marriage bill that is in line with what Pope Francis says is a machination of the Father of Lies (ie the devil).
Taiwon's President is going, which seems to be causing a little tension with China:
TAIPEI: Taiwan’s leader plans to visit the Vatican for the new pope’s inauguration mass, officials said on Friday, prompting China to warn Taipei against doing anything to inflame their delicate relationship.
In light of the planned trip by Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou for next Tuesday’s mass, Beijing also renewed its demands for concessions from the Vatican in their long-running battle for supremacy over China’s Catholics.
Even Constantianople's Patriarch will be there, first time in almost 1000 years!
Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople has announced that he plans to attend the inaugural Mass of Pope Frances on March 19.
The appearance by the Ecumenical Patriarch--the "first among equals" of all the world's Orthodox leaders--is an unprecedented gesture. The Patriarch of Constantinople has not attended a papal installation since 1054, when Constantinople split from Rome.
This is history in the making!
Related links: World leaders head to Rome for pope's inaugural Mass
Finlayson to represent Govt at Papal Inauguration Mass ~ TVNZ
Taiwan leader to attend papal inauguration ~ The Gulf Today
Unprecedented ecumenical gesture: Patriarch of Constantinople will attend Pope's inauguration ~ Catholic World News