.- The White House spokesman has said that President Obama is âcomfortableâ with the makeup of his faith-based advisory council despite protests alleging anti-Catholic bigotry from one appointee who characterized Pope Benedict as a âdiscredited leaderâ and called the Knights of Columbus âfoot soldiersâ in an âarmy of oppression.â
Harry Knox, the controversial appointee, is a former licensed minister of the United Methodist Church and a leader with the homosexual activist group Human Rights Council.
Before being appointed to the presidentâs advisory council on faith-based partnerships, Knox had attacked Pope Benedict and some Catholic bishops as "discredited leaders" because of their opposition to same-sex "marriage."
Knox was also critical of Pope Benedictâs comments on condoms and AIDS in Africa. Writing on the Human Rights Campaignâs web site, Knox claimed the Popeâs statement was a âblatant falsehoodâ which was âmorally reprehensible to spread.â He also suggested the Pope was further harming âthe marginalized and the downtrodden.â
Though granting that the Knights of Columbus had done good works, he nevertheless has characterized its members as "foot soldiers of a discredited army of oppression" because of the Catholic charitable fraternityâs support for the successful California ballot measure Proposition 8.
Proposition 8 restored the definition of marriage to being between a man and a woman.
A group of twenty Catholic and conservative leaders wrote a letter to President Obama protesting Knoxâs appointment, characterizing him as "a virulent anti-Catholic bigot.â Lamenting what they said was the presidentâs âfailure to act,â they called for Knoxâs removal from the council.
CNSNews.com on Tuesday asked White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs if President Obama disagreed with Knoxâs characterization of the Pope and if the president would take any action regarding requests for Knoxâs removal.
âI havenât seen that letter, but the president is comfortable with the makeup of his faith advisory council,â Gibbs said.
This marked the White Houseâs first response to the Knox controversy, CNSNews.com reports.
Knox responded to the letter protesting his appointment in statements to the news site Newsmax. Professing his love for the Catholic Church and his Catholic âbrothers and sisters,â he said he has âtremendousâ respect for the Catholic Church and âall the good that it does.â
âI do think that we have a real disagreement about the role of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, both in the role of the church and in the role of public service,â he added.