Vatican officials initially would not confirm that the meeting occurred, finally doing so on Wednesday afternoon, while refusing to discuss any details.
. . . On Tuesday night, her lawyer, Mathew D. Staver, said that Ms. Davis and her husband, Joe, were sneaked into the Vatican Embassy by car on Thursday afternoon. Francis gave her rosaries and told her to “stay strong,” the lawyer said. The couple met for about 15 minutes with the pope, who was accompanied by security guards, aides and photographers.
“I put my hand out and he reached and he grabbed it, and I hugged him and he hugged me,” Ms. Davis said Wednesday in an interview with ABC News. ‘Thank you for your courage.’”
The Vatican confirmed the meeting only after it was reported by Robert Moynihan on the website Inside the Vatican, which reported as well that the Pontiff gave Davis and her husband a rosary:
“The Pope spoke in English,” she told me. “There was no interpreter. ‘Thank you for your courage,’ Pope Francis said to me. I said, ‘Thank you, Holy Father.’ I had asked a monsignor earlier what was the proper way to greet the Pope, and whether it would be appropriate for me to embrace him, and I had been told it would be okay to hug him. So I hugged him, and he hugged me back. It was an extraordinary moment. ‘Stay strong,’ he said to me. Then he gave me a rosary as a gift, and he gave one also to my husband, Joe. I broke into tears. I was deeply moved.
As I reported a few days ago, Francis, meeting with reporters aboard his plane “Shepherd One,” affirmed that people with religious objections to the duties required by their jobs should have the “right” to conscientiously refuse those duties, and of course the Pope was obliquely referring to Kim Davis and the fracas aroused by her refusal to issue marriage licenses to gays. Their meeting, which must have been requested by the Pope (I doubt Davis would have thought to ask for it, though perhaps her prominent supporters did), can only convey the Pope’s support for Davis’s actions, which in turn means the Vatican’s continuing disapproval of rights for gays, as well as their approval for those who refuse to grant such rights on religious grounds. What else could the Pope’s words “Stay strong” and “Thank you for your courage” mean?
And that’s precisely how Davis took it. As NPR reports:
“Just knowing the pope is on track with what we’re doing, and agreeing, you know, kind of validates everything,” Davis tells ABC News Wednesday morning, speaking about her meeting with Pope Francis and the stand she has taken against same-sex marriage.
She adds, “I’ve weighed the cost, and I’m prepared to do whatever it takes.”
I have yet to see a mainstream American venue, like the New York Times or the New Yorker, point out in an editorial the disparity between Francis’s words and his actions (or rather, his inaction in changing repressive Catholic dogma). Those who claim that Francis really is a liberal pope, committed to changing Church dogma, but moving very slowly because that’s the only way to do it, must explain this secret meeting with Davis as well as his encouragement of her actions. If he really wanted the Church to eventually deep-six its position on gays, the worst way to do it is to provide succor for those who want to deny gays their legal rights.
The Pope is not liberal: he still opposes women’s equality, abortion, and rights for gays. He won’t even mention population growth as a factor causing degradation of the environment. At best his values are those of a Reagan-era Republican. So let us not call the man “liberal”, for while he gives lip service to Enlightenment values, he secretly meets and encourages bigots like Kim Davis.