Kim Davis claims she met with Pope Francis. Would it matter?

Last night, Inside the Vatican reported that Kim Davis held a secret meeting with Pope Francis last weekend at the Vatican’s embassy in Washington, D.C., before Davis’s appearance at the Values Voter Summit to receive their Cost of Discipleship award:

“The Pope spoke in English,” she told [reporter Robert Moynihan]. “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.”

Liberty Counsel, the group representing Davis, was quick to jump on the report, publishing a press release touting the Pope’s endorsement as yet another badge of honor for Davis. In addition, they claimed that the meeting was the Vatican’s idea, not theirs or any American officials’:

The Vatican has not yet confirmed the meeting, and Davis herself is the only source cited in the Inside the Vatican article, which is in turn the only source for Liberty Counsel’s press release (ItV is not an official Vatican site). This is significant given that Kim Davis and Liberty Counsel have proven to be unreliable sources insofar as Davis’s international appeal is concerned. So until the Vatican weighs in, it’s probably best to take the entire account with a full shaker of salt.

That said, there are plenty of reasons to believe that the meeting did happen. For one thing, we already know that Francis gave Davis’s stand against the government’s requirement that she do her job a full-throated endorsement as he was leaving the country. Second, Francis had a very public meeting with the Little Sisters of the Poor, the group of nuns at the center of the legal battle over the Obama administration’s contraception mandate fix in a case that’s about as one-sided as Kim Davis’s. And, finally, this is a big claim to have made up. It’s one thing to appropriate a picture from a prayer rally that wasn’t praying for what you said it was for; it’s another thing entirely to claim you met with the Vicar of Christ on Earth and dare him to call you a liar. That’s probably a bit too bold, even for Kim Davis and Liberty Counsel.

So let’s grant that the meeting happened. Why is everyone freaking out about it?

Again, we already know how the Vatican feels about LGBT people. We already know how Pope Francis feels about religion’s relationship with secular liberal democracy. We already know that he didn’t have any problem holding politically-charged meetings with self-professed religious activists while he was in the United States. And we already know that when he was asked about Kim Davis’s situation, he took her side.

Why should the maybe-fact that he told her so in person change how I feel about either of them?

If anything, all this means is that the Pope took fifteen minutes out of his historically busy schedule to grant an audience — something that for many Catholics would be the experience of a lifetime — to the most newsworthy (and non-Catholic!) anti-gay crusader in the United States. In secret, because he knew it would look bad.

So shame on Pope Francis, but keep in mind that going out of his way to stick up for anti-gay religious activists doesn’t make him a bad pope.

It makes him Pope.

UPDATE: The Vatican has confirmed that the meeting did take place.


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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  • HeartlandLiberal

    I don’t mind if the Pope met with her. I still am glad to have a Pope who is making progress on so many other fronts, and influencing world thought.

    But what I am worried about now is the naive Kim Davis, who is just being manipulated to Hades and back. She is protestant evangelical, I believe. And they don’t have much truck with those Papists, who, as any good Southern Baptist boy like me was taught in middle of the last century growing up, probably have guns stored in the basements of their churches for when they take over everything.

    The following quote is from a Washington Times column on this tidbit of history, just so you know I am not making this up:

    Even in the mid-20th century, there were those who clung to such
    superstitions, as I discovered when some relatives of mine declaimed in a
    backyard debate about John F. Kennedy’s 1960 run for the presidency
    that the Catholic candidate would be a tool of the pope if elected.
    Catholics, they said, had many children because they wanted to subjugate
    the country, and then they moved on to the clincher.

    You know what Catholics hide in the basements of their churches, I was asked. Guns, I was told. Guns to be used in the Takeover.

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2005/apr/16/20050416-111827-1199r/?page=all

  • baboomba

    Right.

  • Don Chandler

    I think the Pope failed.

  • stranded

    There’s a difference between fallible and evil. This was clearly a message of support for bigotry and persecution.

  • Tim Conway

    one other thing show us the beads kim show us the beads, the rosary beads you claim given, those papal rosary’s are like white house playing cards, they have the emblem of the papacy on each bead

  • Tim Conway

    it makes him a hypocritical pope, meeting with a person that does not stand for all biblical principals just one, that gay thing. So he is just watering down what he stands for by meeting her he looses cred on morality and all the abusing priest will never be held accountable, as I don’t believe this pope now, as a catholic I was ashamed of him meeting with her, as a gay man I was hurt. So how can the pope have it both ways, congratulating one person and hurting so many.

  • mononucleosis

    It bothers me.

  • nicho

    In 2008, in the midst of the Prop 8 battle in CA, a Catholic priest followed his conscience and spoke out against Prop 8. He was out of a job within 12 hours.

  • It doesn’t matter.

    Pope Francis is correct: If you find a situation morally and personally objectionable, you should act upon that personal judgment. However, the situation in which Kim Davis has put herself is one where she should have either obeyed the lawful directives of the Kentucky government and the U.S. Federal courts or resigned. There is no “continue to disobey the law AND draw pay for not doing the job you were elected or hired to do.”

    That third alternative is theft. Stealing from the taxpayers.

  • 2karmanot

    Bingo!

  • 2karmanot

    Cuz Jeebus met the whore at the money well.

  • 2karmanot

    Well done….couldn’t agree more!

  • 2karmanot

    “doesn’t make him a bad pope” Oh, I don’t know about that. The memorizing showtime of this faux Saint Francis is yet another brilliant propaganda scheme to refurbish the scandalized reputation the Vatican has been laboring over the past few decades. Pedophilia, sex scandals, and money laundering are only the most obvious. For nearly two thousand years the Vatican has been orchestrating these uber faithful reincarnations to refurbish the coffers. If Ms. Kimi were Catholic, I’m sure a miraculous healing spring would suddenly appear flowing from underneath her double-wide. Consider this Pope’s murderous collaboration with a government dictator that murdered thousands of his own people and students. This Pope also colluded with the torture and imprisonment of his own Jesuit brothers. This Pope is about as holy as the bullet riddled bodies of his once removed victims.

  • Jimmy

    I don’t think this really matters. The pope isn’t acting out of character. He says she has the right you conscientiously object. Sure, I’ll grant that, but what she doesn’t have a right to do is completely prevent people from getting a marriage license because of her religion. If the pope believes that, he’s wrong.

  • 2patricius2

    Does it matter if the meeting took place? I think so, though I would have to think this through a bit longer to clarify my thoughts.

    But I think of the Ali Forney Center for homeless LGBT youths, many of whom were rejected by their Catholic parents. Carl Siciliano, head of the center, asked Francis to come to meet with the young people there to hear their stories of rejection and how the doctrines preached by the bishops led to the rejection. He wanted Francis to meet real people who suffered. The invitation was ignored.

    But if the meeting with Kim Davis – a woman who gained fame (infamy) for imposing her religion on her staff and the public – took place, the clear message from Francis is that the rejected people (whom he took great pains to associate with on his trip) do not include LGBT youths. The message is that he values antigay bigots over real LGBT humans. The message is that LGBT humans are of less value than the bigots, that LGBT humans are discardable – refuse to be thrown on the street for trash pickup.

    This is a terrible message for him to give. But maybe it is well that he gave it (if the meeting reported by serial liars actually took place). Religions, for all their proclamations that all people matter, and that the Golden Rule is the gold standard of morality, are not normally beacons of love and inclusion. Rather, slavery ended in this and many countries not because of religions, but because of the awareness of people (some religious, some not) that slavery is evil and all people should be free. Women have more rights today not because of, but despite religions. So many other moral developments in history came not as a result of religions, but in spite of religions. And the same is true of the progress in realizing the value of the lives and relationships of LGBT people.

    And of course we saw clearly from the church celebrations that took place when Francis was in this country. Women were on the sidelines. It was men who surrounded the pope. The Roman Catholic Church is still a bastion of patriarchy with women excluded from positions of power and equality. And it is just as true that the hierarchy full of closeted homosexuals is a bastion of homophobia and heterosexism.

  • Don Chandler

    Yeah, the pope is fallible. But we all knew that.

  • nicho

    Not spinning, but shaking sadly that this serial adulteress has scammed conservatives yet again.

  • nicho

    Everything about this Kim Davis side show has been a lie. Why change now? She is this cycle’s Joe the Plumber, who was neither Joe nor a plumber. However, conservatives will believe it, mostly because they’ve been carefully trained to believe anything, no matter how bizarre. And, for the charlatans running the Kim Davis Scam that’s all that matters.

  • The_Fixer

    The Kim Davis machine may have lied? Color me surprised.

    Yes, it is a rather big story to make up. But if it is made up, it should be fairly easy to expose.

    Yes, it is unlikely that she lied about the encounter. However, I do believe that she and her cronies lied about details of the encounter. Like the rosaries, what he said, who requested the meeting and that kind of thing. This bunch of born-again-maker-uppers simply can’t go a day without making some kind of shit up.

    One thing that clearly bothers me is that the Pope is the leader of the Vatican, which is a foreign city-state. If what is reported is true, he is advocating U.S. citizens to break the law. That’s over the line, in my opinion. How much further would the Pope go when advocating the breaking of U.S. laws? Would he be in favor of a government overthrow if he felt that government was acting against Catholic doctrine?

    Will anything be said or done about his interference in U.S. internal affairs? No, because he’s the Pope and he’s talking religion. Which is a problem – religion is given far too much license in what is supposed to be a secular country.

    And here I go pissing into the wind, because I know this is not likely to change anytime soon.

  • nicho

    Right — because the pope always meets with serial adultresses.

  • GlennF

    Jon Green said:
    “Kim Davis claims she met with Pope Francis. Would it matter?”

    Uh, you answered your own question, Jon Green:
    “In secret, because he knew it would look bad.”

    Since Bergoglio clearly wants politically progressive Catholics to believe he’s more tolerant on social issues than his predecessor was, it matters a WHOLE LOT, Jon Green.

    And because of that, yes it DOES make him a bad pope..

  • lynchie

    Such a surprise. We h ey he hasn’t expelled any of those pedophile priests so this is no
    surprise. His whole shtick to raise more money for the church. I haven’t
    seen the church open its coffers to help the sick and starving. They
    have however spent millions paying for lawyers, bribes to prosecutors
    and cops and paying off families to keep the rape of young boys on the
    down low. Just another fund raiser trip to america and we feel good
    because he called out the corporations, who frankly don;t give a rat’s
    ass what he says. Back to rome with a plane full of cash from the rubes.
    He is no better than Robertson or Osteen got have that money

  • baboomba

    Excellent…watch the spinning progressive snowflake heads!!!

  • Indigo

    So now she’s a Catholic? What a pack of lies that story is!

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