On or about April 15, 2008, a guy named Joseph Ratzinger, who recently became Benedict XVI, will arrive in the USA at or near Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland. He will be met by a guy named George W. Bush who recently became Presnint W xliii.
On April 16, Joe will speak at or around the South Lawn of the White House, and then meet with W in the Oval Office. On the 16th, W will host a dinner "in honor of Benedict XVI," although Joe will not attend.
With lead-ins similar to "Pope Snubs Bush," slightly less than 100 percent of the US media types view skipping the dinner as "dissing" Bush, which is false. Three or four Catholic-affiliated information sources know better, but the American media poobahs choose to ignore them.
With ridiculous guesses about why the Pope will dine with a few bishops at the Vatican embassy instead of at the White House, most bullshit peddlers focus on the war in Iraq, capital punishment, and torture as the reasons they believe Joe views W as toxic.
In fact, popes rarely dine in public or attend formal state dinners. Most popes have skipped state dinners, going back to the fourteenth century. Many popes have chosen to almost always dine alone, while a few arranged for their meals to be working sessions with papal associates. On rare occasions, popes will be involved with "formal meals" that have the appearance of a state dinner, but the pope must be the host, following 7 centuries of monarchical protocol.
And various reporters, broadcasters, columnists, bloggers, etc., don't seem to know the pope is a monarch ruling a tiny kingdom named The Vatican City, and that certain diplomatic protocols apply, and that some historical nonsense about the Holy Roman Empire is still quaintly in vogue for international functions. Nope, for these untutored, semi-literate, anti-historical people of letters the focus is to fabricate an insult for their unpopular Presnint. There are columns in the print press, airtime on the broadcast media, and blogs beaucoup about this utterly fictional, total non-story.
Noted columnist, Ziff Nada, guru of punditry, commented in a notable column that there is an interesting sidebar story as to why popes avoid state functions. As an odd name coincidence, a guy who became Benedict XI, and was the pope for 8 months in 1303-04, died suddenly in Perugia and it was reported at the time that William of Nogaret (a French knight who had been ex-communicated) poisoned the Italian pontiff. It has also been reported that Urban VI was poisoned by Roman citizens, or perhaps Italian cardinals, after the Papal entourage returned to the Vatican from Avignon, on or about 1379, in an era of false prelates in France, real ones in or near Rome, and a new schism every decade.
During those times, it was fatally dangerous to break bread with heads of state, and almost every city was its own nation. Poisoned dishes for unpopular popes was an expedient method to put the College of Cardinals back to work building fires, and most cardinals also kept a weather-eye for potential assassins. With a history like this, it's no wonder Joe will eat with his pals.
Furthermore, since W will vacate the White House in January 2009, this shindig would offer too many media overtones for comparisons to the Last Supper.