Tom Gallagher reports yesterday evening for National Catholic Reporter about his attempts to gather more information about who initiated the "highly secret rendezvous" of Kim Davis with the pope, which included a Secret Service pick-up of Davis and her husband to bring them (her hair bundled in a head covering to disguise her) to the residence of the papal nuncio. As he writes,
It’s hard to believe that a seasoned Vatican diplomat such as Viganò would, on his own initiative and in complete isolation, invite Davis to meet Pope Francis without seeking counsel and support from others. But to whom did he turn for such counsel and support?
Two of Viganò’s fellow Catholic speakers at the traditional marriage event in April both deny any involvement in arranging the Davis-Pope Francis meeting.
I asked Lori's executive director of communications, Sean Craine, by email if Lori had directly or indirectly initiated, advocated or facilitated the Davis meeting with Pope Francis at the nunciature during the pope's visit to Washington, D.C.
Craine promptly responded by email: "No, he did not."
Similarly, I contacted Kurtz's chief communications officer, Cecilia Hart Price, and asked the same question, and like Craine, Price promptly responded by email: "Archbishop Kurtz was not involved in facilitating or setting up the meeting with Kim Davis nor was the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops."
And then he concludes:
The depth and breadth of the hurt caused by the decision to approve of the Davis meeting with Pope Francis has negatively affected millions of people of goodwill and has left an indelible stain on the pope’s entire U.S. visit. That a senior diplomat would throw his boss under the bus is astounding in both its poor judgment and the sheer lack of pastoral sensibility.
A junior foreign service officer could have envisioned the disastrous backlash by just glancing at the approved guest list with Davis’ name on it, which begs the question: where were the junior nunciature officials when Davis’ name began to appear in the visitors’ protocol information? Did anyone of them push back on the invitation to Davis? Or were they just following orders?
The meeting with Davis is in fact scandalous. Viganò’s continued silence and lack of an apology to those deeply hurt further exacerbates the issue and continues to undermine Pope Francis’ otherwise successful visit.
If the Vatican wants to re-cast Pope Francis’ historic U.S. visit in a more favorable, healing and pastoral light — as it deserves to be remembered — then Viganò needs to go and his replacement needs to be appointed sooner rather than later.
The thread now developing in response to this good article is interesting in and of itself. If most of those commenting in it are American Catholics (and it appears to me they are), it shows a split in the mind of U.S. Catholics who might be thought of as liberal Catholics. A goodly number of those commenting get that, as Sister Simone Campbell recently put the point, the Catholic church has seriously hurt a lot of LGBT folks (the original headline for her HuffPo posting specifically stated that the Catholic church has hurt a lot of LGBT folks, but it seems to have been altered now to refer to Christians in general).
But there are also staunch papal defenders in this thread, who are suggesting that it's mean-spirited to keep pursuing the question of what happened with the meeting with Kim Davis, and to move on. Who keep suggesting that the pope would want us to move on and trust him . . . .
How that approach in any way contributes to the healing of the many LGBT people, and their families and friends, who have been seriously hurt by the current pastoral leaders of the Catholic church eludes my understanding.