How Exactly Did Kim Davis Meet Pope Francis?

Pope Francis’ first official visit to the United States erupted in controversy this week, when news broke that he met with Kentucky clerk Kim Davis. The meeting with Davis struck a chord with many who viewed it as both rejection of the LGBT community, and acceptance of Kim Davis’ refusal to issue civil marriage licenses to same-sex couples. It isn’t hard to understand why people feel that way, since Kim Davis and her lawyers have said that’s how they took the meeting.

The details of the meeting, and who arranged it, are still murky. In an interview with ABC News, Davis said that she received a phone call from a church official before Pope Francis arrived in the United States. The details were confirmed on September 23, and the meeting took place on September 24, while Pope Francis was in Washington, D.C..

According to Davis, Pope Francis hugged her, thanked her for her courage, and presented her two rosaries, which she later gave to her parents, both devout Catholics. Davis’ account of the meeting is the only one available, because the Vatican won’t confirm or deny that the meeting took place. So far, the Vatican has issued a single statement about the meeting.

“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.”

In a later statement, the Vatican said that they would not deny that the meeting occurred, but would provide no further information.

Rowan County Clerk of Courts Kim Davis (L) walks off stage with her husband Joe Davis (R) in front of the Carter County Detention Center on September 8, 2015 in Grayson, Kentucky. Davis was ordered to jail for contempt of court after refusing a court order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Kim Davis (L) walks off stage with her husband Joe Davis (R) in front of the Carter County Detention Center on September 8, 2015 in Grayson, Kentucky. [Photo by Ty Wright / Getty Images]Huffington Post reports that a meeting between Pope Francis and Kim Davis doesn’t necessarily give approval of her actions. According to the Huffington Post, many people meet with the pope during his travels, so many that often the pope doesn’t know who he’s meeting or why. The report cited a similar incident during the tenure of Pope Benedict, where he met with Rebecca Kadaga, a Ugandan politician who was instrumental in the debate to criminalize homosexuality. The report also points out that if Pope Francis wanted to publicly side with Kim Davis, he could and would have done so. Instead, Pope Francis and the Vatican seemed blindsided by the revelation, which the report alleges was carefully timed by Davis and her attorneys to break after Pope Francis left the United States, and during a time of day when the Vatican wouldn’t be able to respond.

This would not be the first time Kim Davis and her attorneys have stretched the truth to her benefit. According to ThinkProgress, Davis’ attorney, Mat Staver, displayed a photograph which he claimed was a 100,000-person prayer meeting for Davis held in Peru. The photograph was, in fact, of a five-day convention held in May, 2014.

The National Catholic Worker questioned how Davis’ meeting was arranged. During an interview with NPR’s All Things Considered, Davis’ attorney suggested that the meeting was arranged by the Vatican because Pope Francis wanted to meet with Kim Davis. However, according to the National Catholic Worker, meetings are arranged through local church officials. Also in question are the details provided by Mat Straver. According to Straver, no translator was in the room during the meeting. Yet, the National Catholic Worker points out, Pope Francis’ fluency in English is limited. These questions aren’t likely to be answered unless the Vatican speaks up.

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 27: Pope Francis celebrates mass during the World Meeting of Families on September 27, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Pope Francis wrapped up his United States tour with the World Meeting of Families Papal Mass during on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. [Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images] PHILADELPHIA, PA – SEPTEMBER 27: Pope Francis celebrates mass during the World Meeting of Families on September 27, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Pope Francis wrapped up his United States tour with the World Meeting of Families Papal Mass during on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)Whatever Pope Francis’ intention in meeting Kim Davis, he’s given the Kentucky county clerk a rallying cry. In her interview with ABC News, Davis said, “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.”

For Davis, “stay strong” means continue her lawsuit against Governor Steve Beshear. According to USA Today, Davis’ suit alleges that Beshar specifically targeted clerks like her, who have religious objections to same-sex marriage. It’s unclear if Beshar is aware of Davis’ meeting with Pope Francis, but he seems unimpressed with Davis’ religious convictions. According to Beshar, “simply stated, Davis’ role is a legal one — not a moral or religious one.”

[Photo by Ty Wright / Getty Images]