Pope Francis was not endorsing Kim Davis during their meeting this week, the Vatican has clarified amid criticism over the Pope’s alleged anti-gay stance.
The Pope met with the Rowan County, Kentucky clerk during a visit to the United States last week. Pope Francis and Kim Davis met privately, and the discussion was not made public, but many believed that the meeting indicated the Pope’s support of Davis’s refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Now the Vatican is saying that’s not the case. In a statement released on Friday morning (via the New York Times), the Vatican noted that Pope Francis was simply meeting with Davis as part of an outreach to a number of different people.
“The pope did not enter into the details of the situation of Mrs. Davis, and his meeting with her should not be considered a form of support of her position in all of its particular and complex aspects,” said the Rev. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman.
“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, referring to the Vatican’s embassy. “Such brief greetings occur on all papal visits and are due to the pope’s characteristic kindness and availability. The only real audience granted by the pope at the Nunciature was with one of his former students and his family.”
Davis was one of the most vocal holdouts after the legalization of gay marriage nationwide, refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples and even going to jail because of her stance on the issue.
“By choosing to meet with Kim Davis, the reigning pin-up queen of homophobia, Pope Francis has sent the clearest possible signal about where he stands when it comes to LGBT rights.”
While he has been hailed by more liberal Catholics for his stances on wealth distribution and messages of acceptance for all religions — including those with no religion or belief in God — Pope Francis has also made some controversial statements regarding gay marriage.
In a visit to the Philippines earlier this year, a country with a largely Catholic and conservative population, Pope Francis said that plans to legalize gay marriage “disfigure God’s plan for creation.”
“The family is also threatened by growing efforts on the part of some to redefine the very institution of marriage,” the pope said, hours after warning that Philippine society was “tempted by confusing presentations of sexuality, marriage and the family. As you know, these realities are increasingly under attack from powerful forces which threaten to disfigure God’s plan for creation and betray the very values which have inspired and shaped all that is best in your culture.”
Pope Francis has also spoken in more broad terms about the dangers of gay marriage. In November, he told a conference on traditional marriage that maintaining opposite-sex marriages was not a political issue, but instead, one of “human ecology.” He added, “children have the right to grow up in a family with a father and mother capable of creating a suitable environment for the child’s development and emotional maturity.”
But there is still a deal of mystery involved with the meeting between Pope Francis and Kim Davis. While the Vatican has downplayed the meeting and its significance, it is also refusing to comment on the discussion or what Pope Francis may have told the controversial Davis.
[Images via Pool/Getty Images]