Embattled press secretary Sean Spicer was not part of the intimate group of White House insiders who met Pope Francis at the Vatican Wednesday alongside President Donald Trump — despite being a devoted Catholic.
The commander in chief made worldwide headlines after he was photographed next to the serious-looking pontiff alongside wife Melania and daughter Ivanka, who donned long-sleeved black dresses and veils for the “stiff” visit.
According to Politico, the group was also joined by Hope Hicks, Trump’s communications adviser, who also wore a black veil and was introduced to Pope Francis as someone who has worked for the president for a long time. Dan Scavino, his social media guru, State Department aide Brian Hook, security head Keith Schiller, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, national security adviser H.R. McMaster and son-in-law/advisor Jared Kushner were also present for the visit.
Spicer, meanwhile, was nowhere in sight.
Asked about Spicer not being included in the group that met the Pope, a source close to the White House told CNN: “Wow. That’s all he wanted,” adding it should “very much” be seen as a slight.
According to Politico, Spicer declined to comment about the audience with the Pope, while a White House official told CNN “it was a very small delegation that joined the president.”
Spicer has been outspoken about his devotion to Catholicism, and even responded to trolls who criticized him for appearing on TV after receiving ashes on his forehead at the beginning of Lent.
Spicer told the Daily Caller earlier this year that he planned to give up alcohol for Lent, and has talked to other outlets about the importance of his faith.
In January, he told Global Catholic network EWTV that “I’m going to look to God every day to give me the strength to do what’s right. That’s all you can ask for is to get up and say, ‘Can I do this thing?’ “
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The apparent snub caps off a rocky few weeks for the press secretary: Earlier this month he was mocked for hiding “among” the bushes in the aftermath of Trump’s firing of FBI director James Comey, which sparked a wave of Sean Spicer “bush ornaments.” Last month he was also criticized for erroneously stating that Hitler never used chemical weapons on “his own people” and for calling World War II concentration camps “Holocaust centers.”