Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, papal spokesman, speaks about Pope Francis' apostolic visit to the U.S. during a media briefing Sept. 24 at a New York City hotel (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz).

The Vatican: Pope’s Meeting with Kim Davis Not an Endorsement

The Vatican has clarified that Pope Francis’ brief meeting with Kim Davis “should not be considered a form of support of her position in all of its particular and complex aspects.”

It did so on Friday, Oct. 2, in a short but clear statement from the Vatican spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, S.J., that effectively deflates and denies the widespread misinterpretation in much of the media about that encounter. Many of those reports alleged that the pope, who is committed to the culture of encounter and throughout his visit had carefully sought to avoid taking a polarizing stance on any of the hot-button issues, had come down on the side of Davis in her particular battle against same-sex marriage.

Lombardi issued the statement to the international media after speaking with the pope earlier that morning, “in order to contribute to an objective understanding of what transpired” and “to clarify the following points”:

He confirmed that “the brief meeting” between Pope Francis and Mrs. Kim Davis took place at the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, D.C., “as he prepared to depart for New York.”

At that same time, he said, Pope Francis also “met with several dozen persons who had been invited by the Nunciature to greet him as he prepared to leave Washington for New York City.”

He explained that “such brief greetings occur on all papal visits and are due to the pope’s characteristic kindness and availability.” But, he added,“the only real audience granted by the pope at the nunciature was with one of his former students and his family.”

Then, in the key passage of the statement, Lombardi clarified 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.”

Father Thomas Rosica, who frequently assists Lombardi on matters relating to the Anglophone world, told reporters that there were “several dozens of people” in the Nunciature (the Holy See’s Embassy) for before the pope departed for New York. He said the pope would “have known little” about Mrs. Davis, apart from her name, and found it hard to give credence to Davis’s account that she had spent 15 minutes alone with the pope. There simply was not time, he said; the time was very limited and the people were scattered in small groups in different locations on the one floor of the building, and each had a very brief greeting with him, nothing more. Moroever, Rosica said, each of those present had been cleared by the U.S. Secret Service before entering the nunciature.

Asked who invited Mrs. Davis, Father Rosica said that question should be directed to the Nunciature in Washington, D.C. He recalled that the pope greeted many people ‘briefly’ in each of the three cities he visited. In New York and Philadelphia, for example, the persons who met the pope were invited by Cardinal Dolan and Archbishop Chaput respectively and, so too at the nunciature, the nuncio would have been the person inviting the guests. Asked why the nuncio would have invited her, Rosica responded: “I do not know specifically the evaluation that was made for inviting Kim Davis to meet the pope.” Responding to another question as to whether the pope had been used, Rosica said the story had been “overblown.”

Over the past few days, the story about his encounter with Kim Davis has been given high visibility in the media and cast a cloud over the pope’s credibility, integrity and extraordinary successful visit. The Vatican now hopes that with this statement the cloud will disappear, and the truth will prevail.

FULL TEXT OF THE STATEMENT BY THE DIRECTOR THE PRESS OFFICE OF THE HOLY SEE “REGARDING A MEETING OF POPE FRANCIS AND MRS. KIM DAVIS”:

The brief meeting between Mrs. Kim Davis and Pope Francis at the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, DC has continued to provoke comments and discussion. In order to contribute to an objective understanding of what transpired I am able to clarify the following points:

Pope Francis met with several dozen persons who had been invited by the nunciature to greet him as he prepared to leave Washington for New York City. Such brief greetings occur on all papal visits and are due to the pope’s characteristic kindness and availability. The only real audience granted by the pope at the nunciature was with one of his former students and his family.

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.