Robert Moynihan, editor of Inside the Vatican (and founding editor of Catholic World Report), has just posted a detailed description of a meeting alleged to have taken place between Pope Francis and Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who was jailed earlier this month for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
UPDATE: Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi, SJ told Reuters that he would neither confirm nor deny that the meeting took place, and that there will be no further statements. UPDATE #2: The New York Times’ Laurie Goodstein reports that Lombardi said, “I do not deny that the meeting took place, but I have no other comments to add.”
Moynihan spoke with Davis about the meeting, which she says took place last Thursday, during the DC-leg of the Holy Father’s visit to the United States. Moynihan also states that Vatican sources have confirmed to him that the meeting took place.
“The Pope spoke in English,” she told me. “There was no interpreter. ‘Thank you for your courage,’ Pope Francis said to me. I said, ‘Thank you, Holy Father.’ I had asked a monsignor earlier what was the proper way to greet the Pope, and whether it would be appropriate for me to embrace him, and I had been told it would be okay to hug him. So I hugged him, and he hugged me back. It was an extraordinary moment. ‘Stay strong,’ he said to me. Then he gave me a rosary as a gift, and he gave one also to my husband, Joe. I broke into tears. I was deeply moved.
“Then he said to me, ‘Please pray for me.’ And I said to him, ‘Please pray for me also, Holy Father.’ And he assured me that he would pray for me.”
Joe told Kim that he would give his rosary to her mother, who is a Catholic. And Kim then said that she would give her rosary to her father, who is also a Catholic.
During an in-flight press conference on his flight back to Rome at the end of his US trip, Pope Francis described conscientious objection as “a human right,” and specified that this right extends also to government employees.
While in DC, Pope Francis also visited the Little Sisters of the Poor, currently involved in their own religious liberty dispute with the Obama administration over their refusal to provide contraception in their health insurance plans.