Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Pope Francis Met with Kim Davis and Wrapped His Protective Mantle Around Her?! As Those Reporting This to Me Say, Absolutely Disgusting If True

When I told you yesterday that I'd be very surprised if Pope Francis did not have direct knowledge of Kim Davis's case, little did I know I'd wake up to an email inbox full of messages sending me articles which are now reporting that the pope met secretly with Kim Davis on his U.S. visit. Laurie Goodstein is reporting about the meeting at today's New York Times, for instance. As she notes, the report that Pope Francis had a secret meeting with Kim Davis comes from Vatican reporter Robert Moynihan at his Inside the Vatican site. That site is returning an error message as I write this posting, but one of the email friends who sent me information about this story early today has sent me a copy of Moynihan's report.

It says that Kim Davis's parents are Catholics (something I had not yet seen reported elsewhere), that the pope met with her and her husband and gave them each a rosary, which they intend to give to her parents. Moynihan's report also says the pope told Kim Davis to stay strong. Moynihan interprets this meeting as the pope wrapping his "protective mantle" around Kim Davis.

Laurie Goodstein reports that a spokesman for the Vatican, Rev. Ciro Benedettini, has said he will not either confirm or deny whether such a meeting occurred. According to Alex Dobuzinskis and Philip Pullella at Reuters, the Vatican spokesman was Father Federico Lombardi.

The Reuters report says that Kim Davis's attorney Mat Staver of the anti-gay hate group Liberty Counsel told CBS News about the meeting last evening. The involvement of Staver in this report introduces an unfortunate wrinkle in this story, since he has just been proven to have been involved in shopping around a whopping lie about a prayer rally in support of Kim Davis that he claimed had taken place in Peru recently — and which did not take place. Zack Ford summarizes that story at Think Progress.

At Mother Jones, Kevin Drum is suggesting that the story of the pope's meeting with Kim Davis may itself be a hoax. Chris Morley also casts doubt on its credibility in a comment here early today.

So stay tuned: it sounds as if this may be an unfolding story, and I expect more will be forthcoming as the day goes on. The predominant word used by those who emailed me the story (most of whom are not gay folks, by the way, but people following the pope's horrendously disappointing response to abuse survivors) is "disgusting." 

And I agree: if this story is accurate, then the story is beyond disgusting. Many LGBT people and those who care about us will read this story to mean that, if the pope has "wrapped his protective mantle" around a woman who wants to claim religious grounds for dehumanizing us and trampling on our human rights, he has done precisely the opposite for us as human beings — he hs cast us off as human detritus, and given us a clear signal that the leaders of the Catholic church decisively hate us.

So the pope ended his church-of-mercy whirlwind tour by slapping women in the face again as he reaffirmed Saint John Paul II's ban on even discussing the possibility of women's ordination. Abuse survivors interpret his behavior towards them on this trip as sticking a knife in their back.

And now we're being told he met with Kim Davis . . . . What was all that talk, again, about mercy and building a more humane society around the concept of tolerance and respect for those on the margins of society we heard recently? Who said those pretty words again? It seems to far away and long ago, I've forgotten.

And the words seem to have been scattered by very ill winds no sooner than they had been uttered, so that, in the end, they signified nothing at all.

P.S. (Later): The Vatican has now confirmed the meeting with Kim Davis, and Moynihan's site has come back online after the Vatican confirmation. See here. And also later: for responses to this story coming into my Facebook feed as the day goes on, see here.

Question: How much did ABC News correspondent Terry Moran know about this secret meeting with the pope when he asked his question about religious liberty as the pope flew back to Rome? And if he did know anything at all, who had prepped him to ask that question. The papal response to it was clearly a prelude to Staver coming public with the report of his client's meeting with the pope.

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