Pope Francis meets Kim Davis

Two weeks ago, Pope Francis traveled through Washington D.C., New York City and Philadelphia in a historic visit to the United States. Francis made many stops during his trip, including giving a speech before Congress, conducting a mass at Madison Square Garden and visiting the Independence Mall. However, one of the pope’s stops did not become public until after he had returned to Rome. The Vatican has officially confirmed that on Thursday afternoon Francis had a private meeting with Kim Davis.

Davis has been at the center of a national controversy after having refused to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. Elected as a clerk in Rowan County, Ky., Davis defended her stance that it was her religious freedom as a Christian to deny marriage licenses to gay couples. The issue escalated further when Davis was charged with contempt of court and jailed for five days after ignoring the federal court order to issue marriage licenses to homosexual couples.

Given the Vatican’s secretiveness of the meeting and the details of what occurred suspicions have risen since news of the meeting between Francis and Davis broke. Many have taken this move by the pope to be a gesture of support in favor of Davis.

In a statement released by Davis’ attorney, the pope said to Davis and her husband, “Thank you for your courage” and to “stay strong.” The pope is then said to have prayed for the couple and given them two rosaries that he had blessed. According to Staver, the meeting between the pope and Davis had been discussed on Sept. 14, a week before Francis’ arrival in the United States. Staver also clarified that this was not an accidental meeting, but that the Davis family even took photos with the pope during their exchange.

As Davis describes the encounter, “I put my hand out and he reached and he grabbed it, and I hugged him and he hugged me. … I had tears coming out of my eyes. … I’m just a nobody, so it was really humbling to think he would want to meet or know me.”

However, the Vatican has recently released a statement to clarify the details of the meeting. Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi said that Francis actually met with several dozen people while at the Vatican’s embassy and “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.” Chicago Archbishop Blasé Cupich also added that “meeting with someone is not an endorsement of that person’s position.”

Further news on this story has been revealed in the past week, with the Vatican releasing to the press that Francis actually had a private meeting with one other person, Yayo Grassi, identified as a former student of Francis. Grassi, a gay man in Washington, brought his partner to meet with the pope. Grassi said that he has known Francis since the 1960s when he studied literature and psychology under Francis at a Jesuit high school in Argentina.

This news comes off the tails of reports that a Polish priest is being stripped of his duties after his announcement as a homosexual. Monsignor Krysztof Olaf worked with the Vatican’s doctrinal arm and held a press conference in Rome with his partner, advocating that Francis issue reforms within the church on the Catholic doctrine on homosexuality. Olaf’s press release was intended to be done just before the Synod of Bishops so that the issue would reach the table. This three week assembly of bishops that serve around the world is focused on addressing issues pertinent to Catholic families. However, the Vatican spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, released the following statement that “The decision to make such a pointed statement on the eve of the opening of the Synod appears very serious and irresponsible, since it aims to subject the Synod assembly to undue media pressure. … Monsignor Charamsa will certainly be unable to continue to carry out his previous work in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the faith and the Pontifical universities, while the other aspects of his situation shall remain the [responsibility] of his diocesan Ordinary.”