UPDATE: The Vatican has officially confirmed that, as claimed, Pope Francis met with Kim Davis during his visit to the U.S., according to the Washington Post.
Spokesman Rev. Manuel Dorantes said, “I do not deny that the meeting took place, but I have no comments to add.”
No further details were available.
Now that Pope Francis’ historic trip the U.S. is over, Kentucky County Clerk Kim Davis is claiming that a church official called to summon her to Washington D.C., where she hugged and received encouragement from the Holy Father.
“I was crying. I had tears coming out of my eyes,” Davis told ABC News in an exclusive interview. “I’m just a nobody, so it was really humbling to think he would want to meet or know me… I put my hand out and he reached and he grabbed it, and I hugged him and he hugged me. And he said, ‘thank you for your courage.'”
Davis is the embattled county clerk whose refusal to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples on the grounds that they violate her religious beliefs has landed her in jail; she continues to refuse to issue the documents.
Kim said she and her husband met the Pope on September 24 at the Vatican Embassy in D.C. after receiving a call from a church official. Reports of the meeting initially came from the religious freedom organization that has been representing Davis in her marriage license fight, Liberty Counsel, in a press release, the Washington Post added.
They cited “Vatican sources” in a “mystical report” about the get-together, linking to a post from an evangelical publication inside Rome. They claim that photos are forthcoming.
However, the church isn’t saying whether or not the Pope met with Kim. Father Benedettini from the Vatican Press Office wouldn’t confirm nor deny it.
“The Holy See is aware of the reports of Kim Davis meeting with the Holy Father. The Vatican does not confirm the meeting, nor does it deny the meeting. There will be no further information given.”
Spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi sang the same tune. The Post noted that it’s rare for the Vatican not to comment on stories involving the pope. And perhaps that’s because his alleged support for Kim seems to fly in the face of his previous stance on matters involving the gay community. In the past, he’s actually seemed to support them, with the cryptic yet hopeful comment “Who am I to judge?”
But the Liberty Counsel calls Kim’s tête-à-tête with the Pope a huge win — and so does she.
“He told me before he left, he said, ‘stay strong.’ That was a great encouragement. Just knowing that the pope is on track with what we’re doing, it kind of validates everything to have someone of that stature.”
At the same time Davis is talking about her secret rendezvous, the pontiff made comments — at the pressing of an ABC News reporter — that are being interpreted as support for the clerk. The reporter, Terry Moran, asked him whether he supports people who use religious liberty to disobey the law, including those doing so in their capacity as government officials.
“I can’t have in mind all the cases that can exist about conscientious objection, but, yes, I can say that conscientious objection is a right that is a part of every human right. And if a person does not allow others to be a conscientious objector, he denies a right. Conscientious objection must enter into every juridical structure … Otherwise we would end up in a situation where we select what is a right, saying: ‘This right has merit, this one does not.'”
As Reuters pointed out, however, the pope never referred to same-sex marriage or Kim Davis; the Catholic Church is officially opposed to gay unions, however.
[Photos Andrew Burton, Ty Wright, Pool / Getty Images]