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Reports: Pope Francis met Kentucky clerk Kim Davis

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Pope Francis secretly met Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk under fire for refusing to issue marriage licenses for gay couples, while he was in Washington last week, according to reports out Tuesday.

“The pope spoke in English,” Davis told Robert Moynihan of Inside the Vatican magazine, a conservative periodical that reported the newson its website, which crashed soon afterward. “There was no interpreter.”

Davis told Moynihan that Francis said to her, “Thank you for your courage.”

“I said, ‘Thank you, Holy Father,’” Davis reportedly said. “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.”


Moynihan, who has covered the Vatican for years, said Davis recounted the meeting to him shortly after it took place last Thursday, shortly before the pope flew to New York for the second leg of his historic six-day visit to the United States.

Davis’ lawyers on Tuesday evening also confirmed the meeting and said it took place at the Vatican embassy where Francis stayed during his three days in Washington.

Moynihan said Vatican officials confirmed that the meeting took place and said “the occurrence of this meeting is not in doubt.”

Church officials in Rome and the United States were not immediately available for comment.

Davis and her husband had come to Washington to receive a “Cost of Discipleship” award the next day from the Family Research Council in recognition of her witness against gay marriage.

Davis, 49, whose mother is Catholic, identifies as an Apostolic Christian, a Pentecostal style church. She has been married four times but had a religious awakening several years ago.

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A federal judge jailed Davis earlier this month over her refusal to issue marriage licenses with her name on them to same-sex couples in her county. Davis also refused to allow clerks in her office to issue licenses. She cited the Bible as the basis of her opposition, saying that God’s law superseded secular law.

Davis was released after six days in jail and, in a compromise, has allowed licenses to be issued without her name and the title removed. Each license includes a statement saying it is issued “pursuant to a court order.”

If confirmed, the meeting would be a stunning coda to the pope’s visit.

Throughout the trip, Francis seemed to studiously avoid political landmines and repeatedly urged his bishops to avoid harsh language and culture war battles — and the Kim Davis case has been one of the year’s biggest rallying cries for the religious.

On the flight back to Rome, Francis met for nearly an hour with reporters. Without mentioning Davis by name, Terry Moran of ABC News asked him if he would support people, including government officials, “who say they cannot in good conscience, their own personal conscience, abide by some laws or discharge their duties as government officials, for example in issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples.”

Francis said he could not address all cases but said that “conscientious objection is a right that is a part of every human right. It is a right. And if a person does not allow others to be a conscientious objector, he denies a right.”

Conservatives quickly pounced on the remarks as a papal endorsement of Davis’ cause while others argued that it was not clear that Francis was referring to Davis or knew about her case.

Others also noted that the pontiff was referring to a right to conscientious objection, which is somewhat different from the claims Davis is making: She says she should be able to keep her government job and while not fulfilling part of the law because of her beliefs.

Conscientious objectors typically choose to do another job or resign in protest.

Writing at Religion News Service, Jacob Lupfer said Davis’ claims actually undermined traditional religious freedom claims.

“Magistrates who serve all comers are the last people we should expect to get high and mighty about the sacred meaning of marriage,” Lupfer wrote. “I am a strong supporter of religious freedom. But Davis’ claim is a huge overreach. If you have strong views about sacred marriage, perhaps a courthouse wedding clerk is not the job for you.”

By David Gibson


1 comment

  1. Ruby Alexandra Beloz Reply

    Dear Holy Father Francis,

    As a Roman Catholic, you have confused many of those that follow you. Your latest approval of Kim Davis, has many Catholics and the GAY community very confused. On one hand you tell us & the WORLD that all are welcome in the house of GOD including GAYS. Next you send out a message that GAYS are only welcomed provided they have no rights. So Pope Francis which is it are GAYS welcomed into the Catholic church provided they have their rights taken away from them? Your recent actions of people pleasing are confusing too many that follow you.

    As for Mrs. Davis she has every RIGHT to believe in anything she wants to. No one is asking of her anything different provided that she does not mix her religious and personal thoughts or beliefs with her job and allow her to interfere with her duty as an elected Court clerk. If Mrs. Davis is so offended then her boss which is the state that pays her salary, should of replaced her and put someone else in that position that would do the job

    Dear Holy Father,

    You asked many Americans during your tour in America to pray for you. You don’t have to ask me to pray for you because I am already praying for you. I pray the Rosary on my way to work every morning. You’ve been on my list to pray for along with the sick, poor, homeless, physically and mentally challenge. The prayer I pray the most for is that GOD will give all Mothers of their sick children divine mercy for a full recovery. There is nothing worst than a mother crying for a child to receive a miracle from our Lord.

    Please dear POPE Francis, don’t fall into the cracks of people pleasing. Our holy Church needs a STRONG LEADER! and at the same time a loving POPE that understands his children of our Church. I will continue to pray for you holy Father and for Mrs. Davis for a change of heart and I leave her with a verse from the bible: Christ said in: John 15:12: “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

    May our Lord Jesus Christ bless you dear Holy father Francis.
    Ruby Alexandra Beloz

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