USA Today reports that Kim Davis, the law-flouting Kentucky clerk, met privately with Pope Francis in Washington at his invitation, according to Davis’ attorney, Mat Staver.
The pope had been quoted as saying en route back to Rome, when asked about Davis, that he supported conscientious objectors who acted on religious principles. But he claimed some lack of familiarity with all elements of the case, which includes her refusal to perform statutory duties of her elected office, refusal to obey a judge’s orders and then evading the terms of the order after her release from jail for contempt.
The Vatican has not confirmed that the meeting between Davis and Pope Francis took place.
The Vatican reached out to Davis through other parties who then put the Vatican in touch with Staver, the lawyer said.
Staver said he was there when a car picked up the Davises to take them to the embassy. The couple was at the embassy for two hours but the actual visit with the pope lasted 15 minutes, Staver said.
“He held out his hands and he asked Kim to pray,” Staver said. “He thanked her for her courage. He said these words, ‘Stay strong,’ and they embraced and hugged.”
Staver’s credibility is open to question, of course. Last week, at the “Value Voters Summit,” Staver displayed the photo above and claimed it was a rally of 100,000 people in Peru in support of Davis. When Think Progress challenged him and said the photo was actually from an earlier event in Peru unrelated to Davis, he initially insisted it was authentic. Pressed by continued reporting that indicated the photo was bogus, Staver finally issued a news release admitting an “honest mistake” based on information from a trusted source in Peru. Read all about it.
The Kim Davis meeting, if true, lends support to members of the Catholic hierarchy who’ve said the pope’s seemingly mild words (“who am I to judge”) about homosexuals have been misinterpreted and should not be taken as a departure from the church’s hard line.
The Vatican says it won’t issue a statement on the matter.
The pope might be staying somewhat quiet because his congregation in America has left him on this topic. Recent polling showed 60 percent of all Catholics and 53 percent of those who attend mass weekly support same-sex marriage.
UPDATE: They finally decided to confirm visit. Lots of commenters saying, duh, the pope is Catholic. But seeking out a contemnor for a private session and seemingly defending her untenable legal argument (and initially trying to keep it secret) diminish a bit of the pope’s image. Many are saying it undermined the good will from his trip.