The Cable

The Pope’s Meeting With Kim Davis That Wasn’t

The Vatican says Pope Francis did not meet privately with the Kentucky county clerk who refuses to issue same-sex marriage licenses.

WYNNEWOOD, PA - SEPTEMBER 27:  Pope Francis greets seminarians as he walks the loggia to his address to the Bishops at St. Martin of Tours Chapel at Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary, September 27, 2015 in Wynnewwod, Pennsylvania. After visiting Washington and New York City, Pope Francis concludes his tour of the U.S. with events in Philadelphia on Saturday and Sunday. ((Photo by Tom Gralish-Pool/Getty Images)
WYNNEWOOD, PA - SEPTEMBER 27: Pope Francis greets seminarians as he walks the loggia to his address to the Bishops at St. Martin of Tours Chapel at Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary, September 27, 2015 in Wynnewwod, Pennsylvania. After visiting Washington and New York City, Pope Francis concludes his tour of the U.S. with events in Philadelphia on Saturday and Sunday. ((Photo by Tom Gralish-Pool/Getty Images)

ROME — About that private meeting last week between Pope Francis and Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who has refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples? Looks like it might have been a case of bearing false witness — or at least a little over-hyped spin.

In a statement issued Friday, the Vatican said Davis was one of “several dozen” people who greeted the pope in a brief meeting in Washington, and they didn’t discuss her refusal to follow the Supreme Court ruling in June that legalized gay marriage in the United States. Moreover, the Vatican said, the only “real audience” Francis granted at the Holy See’s embassy in Washington was to a former student — who, as it turns out, is gay.

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,” Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi said in the statement.

Compare that to Davis’s account of the meeting, during which she said Francis told her to “stay strong.”

“Just knowing that the pope is on track with what we’re doing, and agreeing, you know, kind of validates everything,” Davis told ABC News.  

While at the Vatican’s embassy, Francis met with his former student, an openly gay Argentinian named Yayo Grassi, The Associated Press reported Friday. Citing an assistant Vatican spokesman, The AP said Grassi’s long-time partner also was present. Pope Francis was born in Buenos Aires, where he served as archbishop and cardinal before becoming pope. CNN reported that Francis taught Grassi high school literature and psychology classes in Argentina more than 50 years ago.

The Vatican’s version of the meeting with Davis is a far cry from the sort of cabal that garnered conspiratorial commentary from American conservatives and liberals alike this week. Lombardi described the encounter as within the sort of routine audience the pope grants in his travels, out of his “characteristic kindness and availability.” It’s rare that doing so has forced Francis to turn the other cheek.

Photo credit: Getty Images News/Pool

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