Pope Francis met with a gay former student of his, as well as the student’s boyfriend, during a private audience at the Vatican embassy in Washington, the day before the Pontiff met with Kentucky clerk Kim Davis, a Vatican spokesperson has confirmed.
As The New York Times reports, a 67-year-old caterer named Yayo Grassi, who was a student of Jorge Mario Bergoglio (Pope Francis’ name before he was elected Pope) at a Jesuit high school in Argentina back in the 1960’s, had kept in contact with the Pontiff over the decades. When Grassi heard that his old mentor was in the U.S., he though about trying to meet him.
“Once I saw how busy and exhausting his schedule was in D.C., I wrote back to him saying perhaps it would be better to meet some other time. Then he called me on the phone and he told me that he would love to give me a hug in Washington.”
What’s perhaps startling about this meeting is that Grassi is openly gay and was accompanied by his partner of of 19 years, Iwan Bagus, and some friends. The group even shot a video of their meeting with Pope Francis.
Grassi wants to be clear that observers should read anything into his meeting with the Pope; it was not a statement about Francis’ feelings on homosexuality, or a statement about the Vatican’s possibly-evolving position on the issue. Rather, it was just a case of a decades-long friendship being carried out.
“It was a private meeting, for about 15 to 20 minutes, in which I brought my boyfriend of 19 years. 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.”
Vatican spokesman Father Lombardi re-iterated Grassi’s statement that the meeting was nothing more than two old friends having a chat.
“Mr. Yayo Grassi, a former Argentine student of Pope Francis, who had already met other times in the past with the Pope, asked to present his mother and several friends to the Pope during the Pope’s stay in Washington, D.C. As noted in the past, the Pope, as pastor, has maintained many personal relationships with people in a spirit of kindness, welcome and dialogue.”
Pope Francis’ private meeting with an openly gay former student came the day before a meeting that has had some Vatican observers, as well as interested Americans, scratching their heads: the Pope’s meeting with Kentucky clerk Kim Davis.
Davis, as you may recall, has made headlines these past few weeks for her steadfast refusal to issue gay marriage licenses, at one point even winding up in jail over her defiance. As conservative Christian politicians such as Mike Huckabee came to her cause, it seemed at first that the Pope’s meeting with Kim Davis may have also been interpreted as a statement on the Pontiff’s position on her cause.
— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) October 2, 2015
The Vatican, however, has discouraged observers from reading anything into that meeting, according to MSN. As Lombardi states, Davis was simply one of “dozens” of people to pass through the embassy and meet the Pope. Further, the only people to whom Pope Francis actually gave an audience were his former student and his party.
“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. The only real audience granted by the pope at the nunciature was with one of his former students and his family,”
Do you think Pope Francis was wrong to meet with either an openly gay man and his partner, and/or Kentucky clerk Kim Davis? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
[Images courtesy of: Getty Images/Pool,