Vatican in a mess over ‘toxic’ Kim Davis
In a desperate bid to extricate the Pope from the row that erupted after Francis met with Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples, the Vatican is insisting he gave her no more than a typical brief greeting and that the conversation described by her lawyer. Mat Staver, never occurred.
According to this report, the only “real audience” that took place in Washington involved a gay man.
Yayo Grassi, one of the Francis’s former students brought his partner of 19 years to the Vatican’s embassy for a reunion with the Pope.
Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi emphasised in a statement issued yesterday that the meeting with Davis was arranged by the office of the Vatican’s ambassador in Washington, not by anyone in Rome – including the pope.
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.
The disclosure, after the Vatican’s unusual attempt to correct the impressions left by Francis’ meeting with Davis, added to days of speculation about whether Francis intended to send a message on the place of gays in the church, or conscientious objection, and whether his advisers had fully briefed him on Davis, or had their own agenda.
“Nobody in the Catholic Church wants another Regensburg,” said Massimo Faggioli, an associate professor of theology and director of the Institute for Catholicism and Citizenship at the University of St. Thomas in St Paul. He was referring to the backlash after Pope Benedict XVI, Francis’ predecessor, gave a speech in Regensburg, Germany, that appeared to denigrate Islam.
“This was not as serious as Regensburg, when Benedict read his own speech,” Dr. Faggioli said about the meeting attended by Davis.
But the Pope has to be able to rely on his own system, and in this case the system failed him. The question is, was it a mistake, or was it done with full knowledge of how toxic she was?
The Rev James Martin, editor at large of the Jesuit magazine America, had cautioned in an article this week that the Pope meets many well-wishers on his trips, and that news of the meeting with Davis had been manipulated. He said in an interview yesterday:
I was very disappointed to see the Pope having been used that way, and that his willingness to be friendly to someone was turned against him. What may originally have prevented them from issuing a statement was the desire not to give this story too much air.
But what they eventually came to realize was that they needed to correct some gross misrepresentations of what had happened. It shows that Pope Francis met with many people on the trip, and that she was simply another person who he tried to be kind to.
Staver, however, insists:
This was a private meeting initiated by the Vatican. My contacts were Vatican officials in the United States. And I was informed the request came directly from the pontiff.
Staver said the request had come on September 14, the day Davis returned to work after her release from jail. Davis and her husband were picked up at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in a van by private security guards who spoke Italian, he said. She had been instructed to change her hairstyle so she would not be identified.
Staver said Davis was not among a large group of people meeting the Pope. She saw no one else waiting to see the Pope and no one else saw her.
But at the Vatican on Friday, a spokesman, the Rev. Thomas Rosica, said the invitation had been extended by the nuncio’s office – not by Rome.
Who brought her in? The nuncio … I would simply say: Her case is a very complex case. It’s got all kinds of intricacies. Was there an opportunity to brief the Pope on this beforehand? I don’t think so.
The nuncio in question is Archbishop Viganò who turns 75 in January, the age at which bishops must submit a formal request to the Vatican asking for permission to resign.
These requests are not automatically accepted, and bishops often stay in their appointments well past age 75. But if Archbishop Viganò is held responsible for what is seen as a grave misstep on an important papal trip, he is likely to be removed at the first respectable opportunity, according to several church analysts.
Commenting on mess the Vatican has found itself in, blogger Joe.My.God said of Archbishop Viganò:
That dude is SO fucking fired.