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Saturday, October 22, 2016

By Alex Dobuzinskis and Philip Pullella

(Reuters) — Pope Francis met a Kentucky county clerk, who was jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, during his visit to the United States last week, the Vatican said on Wednesday.

“I do not deny that the meeting took place, but I have no comment to add,” Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said in a statement.

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis and her husband met the pope during the Washington leg of his U.S. visit, she and her lawyer told American media.

The Davis couple traveled to Washington and met the pope at the Vatican embassy last Thursday, ABC News and CBS News reported.

“It was really very humbling to even think that he would want to, you know, meet me or know me,” Davis told ABC. “I put my hand out, and he grabbed it, and I hugged him, and he hugged me and he said, ‘Thank you for your courage’.”

“He told me before he left, he said, ‘Stay strong.’ That was a great encouragement,” Davis said.

Davis said knowing that the pope agreed with what she was doing “kind of validates everything.”

ABC said the pope gave Davis a rosary, which she plans to give to her Catholic parents.

The pope, speaking to reporters as he returned home from his 10-day trip to the United States and Cuba on Monday, said government officials had a “human right” to refuse to discharge a duty if they felt it violated their conscience.

Davis was jailed for five days in September for refusing to comply with a judge’s order to issue the licenses in line with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

Davis has said her beliefs as an Apostolic Christian prevent her from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Her church belongs to a Protestant movement known as Apostolic Pentecostalism.

To keep a low profile, Davis went to the Vatican embassy in a sports utility vehicle with her hair in a different style than her normal look, her lawyer, Mat Staver told CBS.

Conservative Christians, including some Republican presidential candidates, have said Davis is standing up for religious freedom.

But the American Civil Liberties Union, which went to court to ensure same-sex couples can obtain marriage licenses in Rowan County, has argued she has a responsibility as an official to issue the licenses, regardless of her views.

The ACLU, in papers filed on Sept. 21 with the judge hearing the case, asked the court to require Davis to stop making alterations to the licenses, such as removing any reference to the Rowan County clerk’s office.

(Reporting by Suzannah Gonzales in Chicago, Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles, Curtis Skinner in San Francisco and Philip Pullella in Rome; Writing by Jeffrey Benkoe; Editing by Lisa Lambert and James Dalgleish)

Photo: Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis speaks during an interview on Fox News Channel’s ‘The Kelly File’ in New York September 23, 2015. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

  • silas1898

    The same old black heart of the Catholic Church wrapped up in a snazzy new package.

    Just trying to sell the product.

    • therealstory2

      I’m a reformed Catholic (recovering Catholic??). This Pope is the first priest I’ve ever seen who has preached and practiced what Christ taught and lived. I don’t believe this man has a black heart. I do wonder if those with black hearts in the church will allow him to continue.

    • Sand_Cat

      Way too harsh.

  • neeceoooo

    I would have to hear this from the Pope himself before I would believe anything. Kim Davis is pretty much an unreliable source.

    • Polana

      U R right, it’s not easy to get appointment w/Pope. Did her husband wore his overalls and scarecrow hat?? Easy to check if she did fly to Italy. Passport should have a nice stamp in it. I don’t believe anything she says.
      Further more, try to call Vatican and try to speak w/anyone. Good luck.
      When I was in Italy and tried to C Pope John Paul II, I was told to stand in line and hope for the best, but not today or tomorrow or even day after. I finally did C him in Poland and spoke w/him. When Pope JPII was in Denver in Aug. 1993, I was there I was there as a translator U have no idea what security was around him and how many hoops I had to jump to get this job and a pass to be close.
      People think that a Hillybilly red neck comes from US and get secret meeting e w/ Pope. Nothing is secret when U have a meeting, even gov. officials are public affair. What is off to the public the meeting it self only w/ GOVERNMENT officials not w/someone lowblow hillybill red neck. If people believe this, then we all have silver back gorilla for an uncle. What a BS.

    • Sand_Cat

      Pretty much? You are far too kind!

  • Writenow

    The Pope knew he would trash his own popularity…which is why this didn’t come out until he left the country. But seriously, I thought Pope’s were more politically smart than this demonstrates.

  • Insinnergy

    The Pope showed so much promise.
    He’s lost me now. That’s just crass.
    He may as well advance a Theocratic agenda for government.

    • The lucky one

      So you believe this worthless POS when she says the Pope says this or that? She didn’t say whether he absolved her of her multiple marriages which is a clear violation of biblical scripture. Not that I care but I detest hypocrites. If she is telling the truth then Frankie is a hypocrite too.

      • Robert Eckert

        No he’s not a “hypocrite”: like all leaders of the Catholic Church, he believes that the Church is entitled to totalitarian power over all governments. They may not get their way as much as they used to, but they have never ceased believed themselves to be entitled to be above the law.

        • The lucky one

          By hypocrite I meant that he is lauding her bigotry because he shares it while ignoring her apostasy of multiple marriages.

          • Robert Eckert

            Ah, I see.

      • Insinnergy

        It’s a tough one. As others mention below… The Pope is a bit stuck given the platform on which he stands and his previous comments on marriage.
        Still… you are right. I wouldn’t trust Davis in the slightest. Those in the grip of religious mania tend to see and say all sorts of things.

  • Don Belanger

    Kim Davis is “Joe the Plumber” in drag!

  • Jane

    Aw gee…just when I was starting to gain some respect for this Pope he sneaks in his warped view of human rights.

  • daffodilly

    It looks like the Vatican got snookered. The agreement to a “secret” meeting was only intended by one of the parties. The sad thing here is the positive messages of the Pope being buried in the intent of Davis and her handlers to manipulate. The reason for lack of comment on the part of the Pope/Vatican is probably they are holding to their part of the agreement. Let’s put our faith in the Free Press to find out what’s going on here.

  • yabbed

    The Pope was duped.

  • Carolyn1520

    The Pope is being the Pope. While he’s a nice enough guy, with good intentions, his power only affects those who choose to follow him and his book of rules, practicing Catholics.
    While I respect his rights to his opinions, they are no more important to me personally than anyone else’s.
    Davis is an opportunist. She’s getting paid to do her act. I guarantee after this gig is over, she’ll eventually find something else to embrace. Knowing all she has to do is get “washed of her sins”, why not? When her time is up in her job, she’ll have the money she made off this deal to live on.

    In the big scheme of things, why should we even care what was said or not said to her

  • therealstory2

    This article is a little outdated.
    Davis claims the Pope validated her stand (her theatrics?). Vatican says Pope met with many people that day and her defiance, jail time and the politics were not discussed. Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi included this in his statement: “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.”