After several days of speculation regarding the news that Pope Francis met with rogue Kentucky County Clerk Kim Davis, the Vatican has issued a statement definitively stating that the meeting was not an endorsement of Ms. Davis’ views.
In fact, it appears the Pope may not have fully understood who Davis is or her current legal battles regarding her failure to follow the law and issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in her county.
The statement, issued by the Rev. Federico Lomdbardi, Vatican spokesman, specified that the encounter with Davis was part of a series of meetings with dozens of guests, not a wholly private appointment.
It’s worth noting that the Vatican rarely comments on the Pope’s private meetings, so it speaks volumes that this statement has been issued.
Earlier reports seemed to indicate that the Pope himself requested to meet Ms. Davis, but now the Vatican says all of the Pope’s greetings in Washington were arranged by Archbishop Viganò.
As a matter of fact, as we had heard earlier this week, the only true “audience” the Pope granted was to a former student and his family. That former student is an openly gay man, and the family involved was his partner of 19 years.
From the New York Times:
Contacted by phone, a former student of Francis’, Yayo Grassi, said he had been granted an audience with the pope. Mr. Grassi is an openly gay man living in Washington, and he said he had been accompanied by his partner of 19 years, Iwan Bagus, as well as four friends.
Mr. Grassi, a 67-year-old caterer, said that his group met with Francis at the Vatican Embassy on Sept. 23 — a day before Ms. Davis met the pope. In the 1960s, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, as the future pope was called, taught Argentine literature and psychology to Mr. Grassi at the Colegio de la Inmaculada Concepción, a Jesuit high school in Santa Fe, Argentina.
Mr. Grassi said that he had resumed contact with the future pope years later, when he was the archbishop of Buenos Aires. He also visited the pope at the Vatican in September 2013, and later called him by telephone to ask for an audience.
Mr. Grassi said that Francis had told him to directly arrange the visit through the office of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the papal nuncio, or envoy, in Washington.
“It was a private meeting, for about 15 to 20 minutes, in which I brought my boyfriend of 19 years,” Mr. Grassi said. His boyfriend, Mr. Bagus, posted a video of the meeting on his Facebook page showing Francis hugging Mr. Grassi and the others.
Mr. Grassi said the meeting was purely personal. “I don’t think he was trying to say anything in particular,” Mr. Grassi said. “He was just meeting with his ex-student and a very close friend of his.”
“Pope Francis met with several dozen persons who had been invited by the Nunciature to greet him as he prepared to leave Washington for New York City,” Father Lombardi said. “Such brief greetings occur on all papal visits and are due to the pope’s characteristic kindness and availability.”
At the Vatican on Friday, a spokesman, the Rev. Thomas Rosica, said the invitation had been extended by the office of not from Rome.
“Who brought her in? The nuncio,” said Father Rosica, who is working with the Vatican’s media office in advance of a major meeting of bishops that begins this weekend. “The Nunciature was able to bring in donors, benefactors.”
Father Rosica said of the controversy: “I would simply say: Her case is a very complex case. It’s got all kinds of intricacies. Was there an opportunity to brief the pope on this beforehand? I don’t think so. A list is given — these are the people you are going to meet.”
The Rev. James Martin, editor at large of the Jesuit magazine America, had cautioned in an article this week that the pope meets many well-wishers on his trips, and that news of the meeting with Ms. Davis had been manipulated.
“I was very disappointed to see the pope having been used that way, and that his willingness to be friendly to someone was turned against him,” Father Martin wrote. “What may originally have prevented them from issuing a statement was the desire not to give this story too much air. But what they eventually came to realize was that they needed to correct some gross misrepresentations of what had happened. It shows that Pope Francis met with many people on the trip, and that she was simply another person who he tried to be kind to.”
Father Rosica’s statement seemed to square with that account.
Asked on Friday if the Vatican press office had been unaware that Ms. Davis had met the pope, Father Rosica said: “No, but I think we may not have been aware of the full impact of the meeting. It is very difficult sometimes when you are looking at things in America from here.”