Aretha Franklin to perform for Pope Francis in US

Los Angeles, Sep 15 (IANS) Soul legend and 18-time Grammy winner Aretha Franklin, originally a gospel singer, will sing for Pope Francis during his visit to the US later this month. She counts it as a “blessing”.

Franklin, 73, will perform at the Festival of Families on September 26, organisers said, reports

Her father was a Baptist minister, and she recorded her first album, 1956’s “Songs of Faith”, at his Detroit church when she was 14. Now a biopic on her is also in the works.

The Festival of Families, sponsored by the Roman Catholic Church and put on every three years, also announced that actor Mark Wahlberg would serve as the host of the event.

Wahlberg, a devout Catholic, embraced the church after deciding to turn his life around during a short jail term for racially motivated attacks as a teenager in Boston.

“As a Catholic, I credit much of my success to my faith,” the rapper-turned-actor, best known for the 1997 film “Boogie Nights” and for his Oscar-nominated performance in 2006 film “The Departed”, said in a statement.

“It is an honour to be part of welcoming Pope Francis to Philadelphia and I am humbled to join this celebration.”

US pop-rock band the Fray, Christian pop singer Marie Miller and comedian Jim Gaffigan were also unveiled on Monday as Festival of Families performers.

Colombian rocker Juanes, the Philadelphia Orchestra and Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli, will also be on stage, as was previously announced in June.

Pope Francis’ visit next week will also feature a meeting with President Barack Obama and an address to Congress in Washington as well as events in New York, including at the United Nations.

1 Comment

  1. Guess how Obama plans to welcome Pope Francis.

    From Rod Dreher

    Obama gets in Pope Francis’s face with LGBT rights

    This just in:

    The U.S. government said that it would adopt the term “sexual rights” in discussing issues about gender identities and sexual orientation.

    The statement, originally made at a United Nations meeting, came after weeks of lobbying from LGBT groups calling for the U.S. to show leadership on the issue. The new term encompasses the “right to have control over and decide freely and responsibly on matters related to their sexuality, including sexual and reproductive health, free of coercion, discrimination, and violence,” the State Department said, in a statement.

    Richard Erdman, deputy U.S. ambassador to the U.N., made the announcement earlier this week, saying that “sexual rights” would refer to ones that are not legally binding.

    “Sexual rights are not human rights, and they are not enshrined in international human rights law; our use of this term does not reflect a view that they are part of customary international law,” Erdman said. “It is, however, a critical expression of our support for the rights and dignity of all individuals regardless of their sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity.”

    This is incredibly disingenous. So let’s take the government at its word, that it does not include “sexual rights” among those considered legally binding in international law. This is a prelude to pushing for that very thing. Here’s why it matters: if the West can get “sexual rights” written into international law, it can strongarm religiously observant Third World countries into accepting “sexual rights” as a condition of receiving development aid. Want to eat, black and brown people? Want our help fighting poverty? Then bow towards this Western idol.

    I am not surprised that a government led by Barack Obama would do this. Consider the in-your-face culture-warring the White House is waging on Pope Francis:

    Guests at the White House reception for Pope Francis on September 23 will include several gay and transgender persons, a controversial nun, a radical preacher and a gay Episcopal bishop.

    Several of the invitations to the event, which is part of the pope’s three-city tour of America September 22-27, were offered by Vivian Taylor. Taylor, 30, considers himself transgender, which means he identifies as a sex different from his biology. Taylor has male anatomy but dresses and presents himself as female. Until March of this year he was the Executive Director of Integrity USA, a homosexual and transgender activist wing of the Episcopal Church. Taylor lives in Boston and is now freelance writing.

    “A few months ago I received an invitation from the White House to attend the reception for Pope Francis,” Taylor told CNS News. “I was told I could bring several friends with me.”

    Among the five people Taylor chose:

    Nicole Santamaria, the Secretary of Asociacion Colectivo Alejandria, “a collective of transgender and intersex people seeking to promote awareness, provide training and education, and advocate for their community.”

    I’m sure Pope Francis will handle this with typical aplomb, but it’s remarkable, just remarkable, that the White House has chosen to get so in-your-face with the leader of the Roman Catholic Church. Would Obama invite Tibetan dissidents to meet the Chinese president? As a diplomatic matter, it’s unthinkable. Would he invite Ukrainian activists to a reception for Putin? In either case, the diplomatic row from the challenge would be huge. But hey, he can treat the Pope this way? Really?

    These pieces of news are just another reminder of why so many religious and traditionalist people around the world resent the US government’s cultural imperialism. I don’t blame them one bit.

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