Kim Davis provoked a national debate once again this week when she claimed that she had a private meeting with Pope Francis during his highly publicized trip to the United States. As Kim has become symbolic of religious conservatives holding out against legalized gay marriage, the idea of Davis meeting with Pope Francis incensed the LGBT community and its supporters. Many of them even felt that it invalidated the more liberal leanings the religious figure had expressed earlier on gay issues.
But those who may have been turned off by Pope Francis meeting with Kim may want to reconsider their opinion. On Friday, the Vatican released a statement that sought to clarify what had happened in the “brief meeting between Mrs. Kim Davis and Pope Francis” in Washington, DC that had “continued to provoke comments and discussion.”
“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. 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.”
The essential point that the Vatican seemed to want to express was that Pope Francis meeting with Kim Davis should in no way be interpreted as approval of her position on gay marriage. Furthermore, they said that the meeting between Davis and the Pope did not include a conversation about her actions.
“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.”
Also emphasized in the statement, Pope Francis actually did hold a private audience with one person other than Kim — Yayo Grassi, a former student of his who is openly gay and who attended that private meeting with his longtime partner. Grassi first gained attention when he wrote to the Pope in 2010, while he was still archbishop of Buenos Aires, to criticize him for his views on gay marriage, reported National Geographic.
“You have been my guide, continuously moving my horizons — you have shaped the most progressive aspects of my worldview. And to hear this from you is so disappointing,”
Although the Pope later issued a statement saying that the letter had not changed his mind, there appears to be a change in his attitude toward LGBT issues since then. If the Davis meeting took place, it might indicate that those progressive ideas were not totally genuine; but even the Vatican seems to want to keep a distance from Ms. Davis. One official told Reuters that there was a “sense of regret” about the incident.
At this point, the public is left to decide which version of events they believe. In Davis’ original ABC interview on the topic, she warmly described a “private meeting” where Pope Francis told Kim to “stay strong.” Her attorney furthered these statements by indicating the pope had made a deliberate choice to meet with Davis, something else that was called into question by the Vatican’s newest statement.
“I put my hand out and he reached and he grabbed it, and I hugged him and he hugged me, [and said] ‘Thank you for your courage.’ I had tears coming out of my eyes. I’m just a nobody, so it was really humbling to think he would want to meet or know me.”
Did you think Kim Davis exaggerated her meeting with Pope Francis?
[Image via CJ Gunther and Ty Wright/Getty Images]