Francis muddies the waters over homosexuality

Having met Kim Davis, the Holy See issued a press release. John Allen reports that the Church is walking back from this, “Facing mounting controversy over a brief private meeting between Pope Francis and Kentucky court clerk Kim Davis last week, the Vatican broke its silence Friday with a statement saying the pontiff did not intend the encounter as a form of support for her case “in all its particular and complex aspects.” Meanwhile, CNN reported — and the Vatican confirmed — that the day before Francis met Davis, he held a private meeting with a longtime friend and former student from Argentina who has been in a same-sex relationship for 19 years. Davis, an Apostolic Christian, is the clerk who spent five days in jail in September for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, despite the US Supreme Court ruling in June that legalized gay marriage nationwide. The meeting with Davis was thus seen as the pontiff wading deeply into America’s culture wars”.

However, the statement from the Press Office of the Holy See trying to muddy the waters and reduce the significance of the meeting is odd. It would be hard to construe the meeting between Davis and Francis as anything other than an endorsement of the actions of Davis. Thus, the question is why did the press office put out such a statement. The bishops in the United States have had no compunction about doing so.

Allen adds that “The temptation to read the meeting as an endorsement of Davis was especially strong given comments made by the pope aboard the papal plane returning to Rome that conscientious objection on same-sex marriage, including for government officials, is a “human right.” Davis and her lawyers also trumpeted the meeting as support for her cause. Earlier this week, Davis said that when she and her husband met the pope at the Vatican ambassador’s residence in Washington, DC, where the pontiff was staying, he encouraged her to “stay strong.” She later told ABC: “Just knowing that the pope is on track with what we’re doing and agreeing, you know, it kind of validates everything.” The Vatican statement Friday made clear the pope intended no such validation”.

Allen makes the point that “The Rev. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, made it clear that Davis was one of several dozen people the pope greeted at the residence as he prepared to depart for New York City, and was not an “audience” with the pope. “Such brief greetings occur on all papal visits and are due to the pope’s characteristic kindness and availability,” the statement read. “The only real audience granted by the pope at the nunciature was with one of his former students and his family.” That student, according to CNN, was Yayo Grassi, an openly gay man who brought his partner, Iwan, as well as four friends to the Vatican embassy Sept. 23. A video of the meeting shows Grassi and Francis greeting each other with a warm hug”.

Interestingly Allen reports that “Grassi, who said he is not Catholic, said he decided to make his meeting public because he felt Davis was misrepresenting her encounter with the pope. An audience differs from a meeting in that it is a planned, somewhat formal affair. Popes have audiences with heads of state. They have meetings and greeting sessions with benefactors or Catholic VIPs. So the fact that Lombardi described Grassi’s encounter as the only “real audience” in Washington made clear that Francis wanted to emphasize that encounter over Davis’ “brief meeting” with several dozen other people invited to the embassy at the same time”.

All this do is muddy the waters further, which is presumably what Francis wants to do.

The piece goes on to note “As for the Davis meeting, the Vatican statement said that 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.” However, Davis’ attorney, Mat Staver, disputed the Vatican’s description and interpretation of the meeting. The Liberty Counsel released a statement early Friday that said the meeting was an affirmation of the Kentucky county clerk’s right to be a conscientious objector”.

He continues “Staver said an unnamed Vatican official initiated the meeting on Sept. 14, the day Davis returned to work after being jailed, saying the pope wanted to meet her. He said Vatican security picked up her and her husband from their hotel and told her to change her hairdo so she wouldn’t be recognized since the Vatican wanted the meeting kept secret. Staver said the couple was in a separate room with Francis and Vatican security and personnel, and that no member of the general public was present, to keep the meeting secret. He said the Vatican official who arranged the meeting insisted that it not be made public until after Francis had left the United States, and gave him the “green light” to make it public after Francis was back in Rome. The dispute may center on what Staver means by the term “Vatican” and what the Church means. The Rev. Thomas Rosica, who assists the Vatican with English-speaking media, seemed to indicate that the meeting had been arranged by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, who serves as the pope’s ambassador in the United States”.

The article ends “Since news of the meeting was first reported on Tuesday by Inside the Vatican magazine, the Vatican had refused to comment — not denying the meeting, but declining to elaborate on how it happened or what it meant. That changed Friday with the statement from Lombardi, which Rosica elaborated on later. Rosica denied that anyone had attempted to manipulate the pope into meeting Davis, but said there had been a failure to advise the pope properly on the magnitude of the encounter. “I don’t think anyone was willfully trying to trick the pope,” he said, “nor was the pope briefed properly on who he was meeting. He wasn’t properly briefed on the person or the impact of such visit.” Rosica said he has heard the US bishops were not aware of the meeting, and suggested it may have been “orchestrated” by Davis’ legal team. Rosica also said that Francis had personally approved issuing Friday’s statement after learning the reaction the encounter had generated”.



2 Responses to “Francis muddies the waters over homosexuality”

  1. Order and Tradition Says:

    […] the Synod on the Family opens today, John Allen writes that “In the wake of bitter controversy surrounding a private meeting with Kentucky clerk Kim Davis during his trip to the United States last week, Pope Francis has a […]

  2. America’s new nuncio? | Order and Tradition Says:

    […] Notably these are the archpriest’s job at Santa Maria Maggiore. However, in light of the chaos seemingly favoured by Francis he may wish to not reward/punish Vigano for his Davis […]

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