Apostolic Nunciature Washington DCWhen the media initially reported that Pope Francis had met the gay-hating Religious Right aspiring martyr Kim Davis, clerk of Rowan Cty, KY, while he was in Washington last week (WebCite cached article), I admit having been skeptical. At first, only she and her people (i.e. the Christofascist outfit called Liberty Counsel, led by her attorney Mat Staver) had made this claim. The Vatican and its nunciature (aka embassy) initially wouldn’t confirm or deny it. This was just the sort of thing Staver and his cadre might try to cook up in an effort to make their client appear saintly. So I was suspicious.

My skepticism was proven wrong when they confirmed a meeting took place, but said nothing about its nature (cached). That seemed pretty odd, since Ms Davis and Staver had painted a rather rosy picture of how the Pope had told her to soldier on for Jesus in her crusade against marriage in her county, because gays. After continued questions, the Pope’s people finally had to say more about it. And what they did say, as the New York Times reports, didn’t exactly match Ms Davis’ contention (cached):

Pope Francis’ encounter with Kim Davis last week in Washington, which was interpreted by many as a subtle intervention in the United States’ same-sex marriage debate, was part of a series of meetings with dozens of guests and did not amount to an endorsement of her views, the Vatican said on Friday.

The church distanced itself on Friday from the case of Ms. Davis, the Rowan County, Ky., clerk who defied a judge’s order and refused to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples. It said “the only real audience” Francis gave in Washington was to a former student of his.

The Times hosts a copy of the Vatican’s statement (cached), which says, among other things:

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.

What’s odd about this is that the one personal audience the Pope’s office admits occurred in Washington wasn’t just with any old former student of his. This person, the Times explains, was gay, and he’d brought his long-time partner along:

Contacted by phone, a former student of Francis, Yayo Grassi, said he had been granted a meeting with the pope. Mr. Grassi is an openly gay man living in Washington, and he said he had been accompanied by his partner of 19 years, Iwan Bagus, as well as four friends.

CNN has also reported on this part of the story (cached). I find it incredibly odd that Pope Francis would have arranged his own meeting with a former student who was gay, on the one hand, yet also met with — and supposedly encouraged — an anti-gay crusader for Jesus on the other. It all seems improbable on its face.

A possible explanation for this incongruity may lie in a report by a LGBT advocacy group, the New Civil Rights Movement, with new details on how Ms Davis’s meeting was arranged (cached):

The New Civil Rights Movement has learned through a source within the Apostolic Nunciature, the Vatican embassy, that Kim Davis’ meeting with the Pope was arranged – contrary to theories espoused in the media – by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The USCCB is led by President Joseph E. Kurtz, the Archbishop of Louisville, in Davis’ home state of Kentucky, and by the Archdiocese of Washington led by Cardinal Donald Wuerl. Both institutions have actively opposed same-sex marriage. In 2009, Cardinal Wuerl signed the Manhattan Declaration, an ecumenical statement calling on Evangelical, Orthodox, and Catholic Christians to defy laws permitting same-sex marriage and other issues they claim challenge their religious freedom.

The USCCB has ties to organizations designated as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center, including the Family Research Council and the Center for Family and Human Rights (C-FAM).

Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the papal nuncio (aka ambassador) to the US is, according to some reports, a conservative within the hierarchy who’d participated in an anti-gay-marriage rally in Washington earlier this year (cached). As nuncio, Viganò very well could have arranged to insert Ms Davis and her goofy hick husband into a receiving line for the Pope, and possibly have done it with only a few people aware of who she really was. In other words, Viganò may well have blindsided his own boss, in the name of pushing an anti-gay crusade and promoting Ms Davis’s desired martyrdom, at the behest of the very-conservative American bishops.

I haven’t seen any other reports definitely linking this strange meeting with the USCCB. But other outlets, such as The Atlantic, have mentioned oddly cagey comments by Archbishop Kurtz (cached):

Joseph Kurtz, the archbishop of Louisville, Kentucky, and the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, wouldn’t comment on the meeting itself and how it came about, noting that he stayed about a mile away from the nunciature where Pope Francis stayed during his visit to D.C. But “I can comment on the fact that in Kentucky, I had said that I’m not a lawyer or a politician, but I had certainly hoped that room could be made for people of conscience,” he said on Wednesday. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops was the primary coordinator of the pope’s schedule during his visit to the United States.

The more I read about this, the more I smell a rat. And that rat stinks like episcopal incense.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.