A Vatican spokesman on Oct. 2 downplayed the significance of the pope’s meeting with Kim Davis, saying her supporters had “overblown” the encounter.
The official statement on the meeting, which took place on Pope Francis’ last day in Washington, D.C., comes two days after news of the incident broke. The Rev. Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman, said he had to meet with Francis to get the full story before he could comment.
“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,” Lombardi said.
He also disputed Davis’ claim that she met privately with the pope, saying he only had one private audience while in Washington.
While some details of the meeting are in dispute, the Vatican has not denied several basic facts that indicate someone in the Catholic Church’s hierarchy wanted to make the introduction. Despite throngs of media gathered outside the Vatican embassy, no one noticed Davis and her husband, Joe, come and go, a feat that likely required assistance from Church officials. Mat Staver, Davis’ lawyer, has said Vatican security officials met the couple at their hotel and brought them to the embassy, taking them through a back entrance and asking her to disguise her easily recognizable, long hair to avoid detection.
Lombardi declined to say who invited Davis to meet with Francis. Staver said previously someone from the Church contacted him about a week before the pope arrived for his U.S. tour.
Lombardi’s assistant, the Rev. Thomas Rosica, said he didn’t think the pope was tricked into meeting Davis but likely didn’t know the full biographies or details about the dozens of people he met with during his trip.
“I don’t think anyone was willfully trying to trick the pope, and at the same time nor was the pope briefed properly on who was he meeting,” he said. “He wasn’t properly briefed on the person or the impact of such a visit.”
Staver does not dispute the pope’s lack of specific knowledge about Davis’ case: “We wouldn’t expect the pope to weigh in on the particulars of any case.”
Davis said during the meeting the pope encouraged her to “stay strong,” a generic comment that could be taken several ways. And while he might not have been familiar with her specific situation, Francis did weigh in on religious liberty for government officials, saying their conscientious objection to same-sex marriage was a human right.
“It is a right. And if a person does not allow others to be a conscientious objector, he denies a right,” Francis said.
Courtesy: WORLD News Service
Publication date: October 5, 2015