Kim Davis “audience” with pope backfires

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Davis' booking photo from the Carter County Detention Center

Public Domain

Davis' booking photo from the Carter County Detention Center

Davis' booking photo from the Carter County Detention Center

Davis’ booking photo from the Carter County Detention Center

So the Vatican now says Pope Francis didn’t give a “real audience” to Kim Davis but did give one to a gay former student and his boyfriend of 19 years. Davis was just one of “dozens” of people invited to a meet-and-greet at the papal nunciature in Washington.

Nor did the pope “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,” according to the statement issued yesterday by Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi. And whereas Davis’ lawyer says the invitation came from the Vatican, the Vatican says it came from the papal nuncio, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò.

Who am I to judge?

All I’ll say is that this is pretty extraordinary push-back for the Vatican Press Office, signaling a belated recognition that L’affaire Davis has rained long enough on the aftermath of Francis’ American parade. And that the story was pretty peculiar from the outset.

It’s one thing to make an unscheduled public stop at the Little Sisters of the Poor as a signal of support for the order’s religious liberty case against the Affordable Care Act, though whether Francis was actually supporting their position in all of its particular and complex aspects may be open to question. It’s quite another to let so controversial (and non-Catholic) a figure as Davis control the narrative of an extended, unacknowledged private audience.

Most likely, her invitation was contrived by the network of conservative Catholics and evangelicals that has pushed the cause of religious freedom to the center of the American culture wars. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops reportedly opposed it.

Kim Davis’ position is not complex. It is about using a claim of religious freedom to deny other people their constitutional rights. It is at odds with the position Francis expressed a week ago at Independence Hall when he called it “imperative that the followers of the various religions join their voices in calling for peace, tolerance and respect for the dignity and rights of others.”

Even under the most generous of assumptions, Vatican trip managers cannot be absolved of letting Davis into the papal presence. I bet they will be more vigilant in the future. I also bet that this episode will render His Holiness less inclined to toss his conservative critics a bone or two at the Bishops Synod on the Family, which starts tomorrow.

  • Ben in oakland

    Do you really mean to say that the Liberty Council and uber-Christian kim Davis might have LIED at worst, or stretched the truth beyond recognition in order to advance someone else’s agenda?

    Anti gay Christians lie? revile? slander? demand domibnion over people who don’t share their beliefs?

    I find this hard to believe.

  • Doc Anthony

    I notice that nobody — not the Vatican, nor any gay activists, nor anybody else — is able to “re-edit” or “delete” or “take back” the specific words that Pope Francis said directly to the American media last week, concerning Kim Davis and her right to be a conscientious objector, even while serving in government. official.

  • Betty Clermont

    Papal apologist Silk omits the fact that after meeting with Davis the pope specifically said that “conscientious objections” for “government employees” is a “human right.” Also, in dozens of statements, the pope shares Davis’ opposition to same sex marriage.
    The Vatican embassy is operated by the most experienced and oldest continuous foreign affairs department in the world. So, no, they weren’t duped or tricked. Like Chaput said, “It was really good to know that Francis stands with us on this very important issue.”

  • alison

    How exactly did it backfire?