Bush, Bush Sr. and Clinton to Attend Pope Funeral

Confirming the weekend’s speculation, President Bush has invited his dad and former President Clinton to attend the funeral of Pope John Paul II.

Bush, Bush Sr. and Clinton to Attend Pope Funeral (Reuters)

Former U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush will join President Bush’s delegation to the funeral of Pope John Paul II, the White House said on Tuesday. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will also be part of the official U.S. delegation to Friday’s funeral.

Former President Jimmy Carter was asked to join the delegation, but he will not do so, White House spokesman Trent Duffy said. The White House declined to explain the reason.

I’m glad to see that Carter was invited; this hardly seems an appropriate time for a snub. One wonders why Carter declined the invitation.

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James Joyner
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James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Maggie says:

    Carter is in Cuba, no doubt, visiting his good buddy, Fidel. They’re discussing the procedures for sacrosanct elections….it’s all the religion Jimmy can handle right now.

  2. dw says:

    Why is Carter not going? Could be because he’s a Baptist. He didn’t go to the funerals of either Paul VI or John Paul I (he sent his mother to JPI’s funeral). Things were different in 1978, though. The US didn’t recognize the Vatican City as a soverign nation, and there was a strong anti-Catholic sentiment among Protestants.

    It could be due to his age as well (81), but Bush Sr is going. OTOH, Bush Sr has kept himself in better health than Carter.

  3. schar says:

    It’s fine if Carter doesn’t attend an event in Italy. He was just assigned a huge job investigating the Nov. elections. Let’s allow him the right to decline such a long trip without assigning some ulterior motive or decide he has some huge health issue. BTW did the Pope ever come to any funeral of our leaders…Was he there at Reagan’s?

  4. McGehee says:

    He didn’t go to the funerals of either Paul VI or John Paul I…

    Actually, no U.S. president has ever attended the funeral of a pope before, at least not while still in office as president. It wasn’t until Theodore Roosevelt, I believe, that any sitting U.S. president had ever traveled out of the country.

    So Carter’s not going to those two funerals doesn’t really say anything, nor does the fact he’s Baptist — so’s Clinton, and the Bushes are Methodist.

    The most reasonable explanation may be that Carter simply doesn’t agree with the new precedent that Bush 43 is about to set by attending this one.

  5. Jack says:

    Folks, Carter isn’t going because the Vatican limited the delegation to five people, so Carter withdrew his request so that the others could attend. He was being a gentleman,as he always is.

  6. Davod says:


    Let’s not bring Carters charachter onto the argument. To controversial a sucject.

  7. Begalke Blog says:

    No offense to Jimmy, but his request is obviously self-serving.

    Beyond that, he had the opportunity to attend Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul I’s funerals, but snubbed the Catholic Church both times….

    In any event, it is sad that much of media’s focus is on Jimmy Carter, and not Pope John Paul II’s life and accomplishments.


  8. Elizabeth says:

    It seems that Carter did withdraw his name after the white house told him that only 5 people would be able to attend as the official delegation. He IS a gentleman about this – he has far more in common with the Pope than any of the other members of this official delegation – in what he believed in and his actions. It is entirely within his place to request to attend – so did the elder bush and clinton. Carter was the only president to invite the Pope to the white house. My personal belief is that the white house would not want carter to attend and after he said he wanted to, THEN they told him only five people would be able to attend. Why would not Bush Sr. (already a family member is going), Clinton (who up until last week was told he should not travel because of his health), C. Rice (who some question why she would be incoluded in an official delegation over a former president) or Laura Bush (a spouse is not obligated to attend an official event such as this at all) step aside??? Because there is more to it than it seems. Jimmy Carter most assuredly does not care and perhaps does not feel snubbed – but the fact is, he did decline to give someone else the chance and you can be sure none of the others did. It has NOTHING to do with health issues. Good grief! The elder Bush is so wimpy he puked all over the japanese prime ministers pants a few years ago – not a very good traveler, eh?