Friday, October 2, 2015
Vatican clarifies: Francis' Kim Davis meeting not a show of support
Joshua J. McElwee National Catholic Reporter October 2, 2015 After days of speculation about Pope Francis’ meeting while in the U.S. with a Kentucky county clerk who has refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses, the Vatican clarified Friday that the meeting should not be seen as a show of support by the pope for the clerk. Francis’ meeting with Kim Davis “should not be considered a form of support of her position in all of its particular and complex aspects,” Vatican spokesman Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi said in a statement. “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,” Lombardi said in the statement. “Such brief greetings occur on all papal visits and are due to the Pope’s characteristic kindness and availability.” “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 spokesman. Friday’s statement caps a story that has attracted wide media attention, with many asking why the pope would choose to meet with a controversial figure in secret during his otherwise well-received visit to the U.S. Sept. 22-27. Questions were especially pointed because the pontiff had taken a fairly moderate tone on issues of religious liberty during his visit --placing them always in the context of other freedoms, and refusing to use harsh language about the issue. Basilian Fr. Tom Rosica, a Canadian who assists the Vatican press office with English-language media, said Friday that the encounter between Davis and Francis was not organized by Vatican staff. Rosica said the Vatican was unsure who the meeting was organized by, and that it might have been an initiative by the Vatican’s ambassador to the U.S., Archbishop Carlo Vigano. The encounter took place at the DC embassy Sept. 24, just before the pope headed to New York for a visit there. Rosica said that Vatican staff were not sure the pope “knew fully each of the people he was meeting” while greeting people at the nunciature. The priest also said Francis had personally approved Friday's press statement after a meeting with Lombardi on the issue. While Friday’s statement clarifies the Vatican’s position on Francis’ meeting, it does not look likely that it will close discussion on the matter. Davis’ lawyer, Mat Staver, responded almost immediately to the Vatican, disputing the claim that the pope only met the clerk as part of a group. Davis and her husband, Staver told the Associated Press, met the pope alone. Staver also told the AP that Vatican personnel initiated contact, saying the pope wanted to meet Davis. The lawyer did not name the Vatican officials.