Vatican Now Distancing Itself from Kim Davis?

Vatican Now Distancing Itself from Kim Davis? October 2, 2015

Pope Francis smilingAt first the Vatican would neither confirm nor deny that Pope Francis had met with Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis, who was jailed for five days after refusing to issue marriage certificates to same-sex couples.

Then, Father Federico Lombardi, SJ, Vatican spokesman, admitted that a brief meeting had taken place at the Vatican Embassy in Washington DC, but that news of the meeting had remained private until after Pope Francis had left the country, so as not to overshadow the Pope’s message during his U.S. trip.

And now today, the Catholic Herald reports that the Vatican is apparently distancing itself from Kim Davis. The Herald quotes a statement from Father Lombardi which said:

“The brief meeting between Mrs Kim Davis and Pope Francis at the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, DC has continued to provoke comments and discussion. In order to contribute to an objective understanding of what transpired I am able to clarify the following points.

“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. Such brief greetings occur on all papal visits and are due to the Pope’s characteristic kindness and availability. The only real audience granted by the Pope at the Nunciature was with one of his former students and his family.

“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.”

This will be disappointing news to Catholics who had hoped that Pope Francis would clearly address the matter of religious liberty during his U.S. visit, and who saw the meeting with Kim Davis as a demonstration of papal support for her cause.

But then again, the Pope in his in-flight press conference as he returned to Rome did speak of the right of conscientious objection, even in the case of government officials. Responding to a question from ABC News’ Terry Moran, Pope Francis said:

Conscientious objection must enter into every juridical structure because it is a right, a human right. Otherwise we would end up in a situation where we select what is a right, saying ‘this right that has merit, this one does not.’ It (conscientious objection) is a human right. It always moved me when I read, and I read it many times, when I read the “Chanson de Roland” when the people were all in line and before them was the baptismal font and they had to choose between the baptismal font or the sword. They had to choose. They weren’t permitted conscientious objection. It is a right and if we want to make peace we have to respect all rights.”

Asked to clarify whether that right applied also to government employees, the Pope continued:

“It is a human right and if a government official is a human person, he has that right. It is a human right.”

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  • Mike Blackadder

    Pope Francis offered Davis clear moral support. I think the Vatican is hedging against the interpretation that the Pope is advocating outright for civil disobedience.

    “During the meeting Pope Francis said, ‘Thank you for your courage.’ Pope Francis also told Kim Davis, ‘Stay strong.’ He held out his hands and asked Kim to pray for him. Kim held his hands and said, ‘I will. Please pray for me,’ and the pope said he would.

    Read more:

    • Kathy Ruth

      Kim Davis’s lawyers say this was said, Kim Davis says this was said. I will NOT believe it until I hear it from another source.
      I’m sure the Pope said much the same thing to EVERYONE there!

      • Mike Blackadder

        I think that Pope Francis trusts in different manifestations of grace. Why would we expect him to judge Davis, because CNN judges Davis? The account of what Pope Francis said to Davis was not denied by the Vatican or corrected, and this strikes me as exactly how Francis would minister to Davis.

  • prairiebunny

    I hope this isn’t a case of “Oh Dear,we’re getting bad press,let’s throw Kim Davis under the bus and insult her while we are at it” kind of thinking.

  • Mary E.

    I see this as a pro forma statement signalling that the Holy Father does not intend to get enmeshed in the particulars of the controversy that has erupted this week. Perhaps some people, including some faithful Catholics, want him to get further enmeshed in it? I don’t. The Pope, in his speech at Independence Hall, offered a strong, clear defense of religious liberty, and he followed it up with his remarks during the in-flight conference. Those were more than enough for me, especially when combined with his visit to the Little Sisters of the Poor.

  • Keo Capestany

    In 1950 when I was13 years old I visited Rome with an uncle. While there my uncle called an old friend of his who was Cuba’s representative to the Holy See. He made arrangements to an special audience with pope Pius XII . My uncle was just a fervent Catholic-middle class- businessman in Cuba. At the audience there were perhaps 30 or 40 people arranged in a circle. Pius came with an aide who was telling him who each of his visitors was, exchanged a few words with each and went to the next one. The meeting was 2 or 3 minutes long.
    That publicity-hound hater has a perfect right to believe all the idiocies in the world but if she was an honest person she should quit her job to honor her stupid beliefs

  • LEH

    I believe that Pope Francis has made an OBJECTIVE statement here, and not a statement specific to Davis. While I support anyone’s right to object, I most certainly DO NOT support Davis’ dereliction of public duty in the name of religious objection. Ms. Davis “choice” —unlike the choice between two fruits of religion in Chanson de Roland that the Pope alludes to— is a choice between apples and bananas. And here’s where separation of church and state take over. Ms. Davis took a public oath and swore to uphold the law: she has a legal OBLIGATION to serve ALL the people, which btw, she managed nicely enough until the law changed. Since Ms. Davis objects to the changes, i.e., gay marriage, it is quite reasonable for her to ask to be released from her duties in light of that change to the law. However, she wants to have her cake and eat it too; her unreasonable insistence on holding the entire public illegally hostage over her personal belief is inconceivable to the rational mind.

  • There is perhaps a distinction between holding one’s own point of view as a matter of conscience, and being in a position of power wherein one inhibit’s another’s point of view, which I would also believe to be a ‘matter of conscience’. Is not the second case applicable to the position of Kim Davis within the secular system. I agree with those who raised the point that she had other alternatives, – from ‘giving up her job’ – to allowing others to proceed in processing what were to others ‘legal’ rights. The distinctions between church and state, the moral and the legal, are of course, not clearly defined, nor do I expect that they can be, as these issues are I believe, always in a state of continual change, and may we hope, development.