Rev. Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman, later told the New York Times that he “did not deny that the meeting took place, but I have no other comments to add,” which led the New York Times to conclude that he had “confirmed the meeting.” To BuzzFeed, Lombardi said that, “yes,” the meeting took place — an apparent confirmation — but then repeated the line, “I don’t deny the meeting has taken place. but I have no comment to add.” According to David Gibson of Religion News Service, “it wasn’t actually a ‘yes’.”Of course, it now appears that a meeting likely did take place, although what many are reporting as “confirmation” may only be a non-denial – a minor but important distinction.
As with all developing stories, early speculations can turn out to be right or wrong, and so we encourage our readers to follow the most up to date reports and discussions as the media follows this story.
Kim Davis Reportedly Met With The Pope During His U.S. Visit
Newly-minted Republican and controversial figure Kim Davis has made quite a shocking claim. According to conservative magazine Inside The Vatican, Davis was singled out by the visiting Pope Francis for a private meeting. Some people are calling “shenanigans” because the statement was released primarily through the Liberty Counsel, an ultra-conservative, anti-gay marriage organization. The group has provided Davis with legal counsel and representation as she continues to fight the Supreme Court’s nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage.
Davis apparently reached out to Inside The Vatican about secretly meeting the pope last Thursday, and spoke of the encouragement she received directly from His Holiness.
Via NPR’s Sylvia Poggioli:
“News of the 15-minute-long meeting was first reported by the conservative magazine Inside the Vatican. Kim Davis told the editor Pope Francis thanked her for her courage, hugged her and told her, ‘Stay strong.’
“Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi did not deny the meeting took place but would not comment further.”
The American media seems to be reporting this story from the angle that the claim is so huge, there’s no reason for Kim Davis (or, more specifically, the Liberty Counsel) to lie. Since the Vatican refused to comment or deny that a meeting took place, somehow that’s validation of Davis’s claims as to what took place. While media sources are eager to tie the two figures together, there are a few reasons to remain skeptical about the Liberty Counsel narrative.
One big reason?
The only version of events we’ve heard come from Kim Davis, her lawyer Mathew D. Staver, and the Liberty Counsel.
It’s for situations like these when we break out words like “claims” and “allegedly.” Allegedly, the Vatican reached out to Kim Davis for this meeting several weeks ago. Kim claims that she was presented with a pair of rosaries (for her Catholic parents), and Staver said that there were photographers present.
Photographs of the meeting would indeed go a long way towards providing factual confirmation. The problem is that there were no photographers present for this alleged meeting. Remember Inside The Vatican, the original breaking news source everyone is referencing? Inside The Vatican said, and I quote:
“There is no recording of this conversation or photographs.”
The source then goes on to assure us proof of Davis’s version of events will somehow manifest because…Luke 8:17. What’s amazing to me is how many news organizations have pumped up this meeting based off of the unverified claims of Kim Davis, her lawyers, and the Liberty Counsel through an ultra religious magazine with every reason to be biased.
The story was strengthened by reports by ABC News in particular. The news source jumped on the exclusive with Kim Davis, which they immediately linked to questions ABC News reporter Terry Moran asked of Pope Francis on his plane Sunday, as the pontiff was departing the United States:
ABC News’ Terry Moran asked Francis Sunday night if he supports individuals, including government officials, who claim religious liberty as a reason to disobey the law.
Francis responded, “I can’t have in mind all the cases that can exist about conscientious objection, but, yes, I can say 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.”
When asked if that includes government officials, Francis said, “It is a human right, and if a government official is a human person, he has that right. It is a human right.”
It was Inside The Vatican that first implied that the pope must have had Kim Davis in mind. This is shadowed by ABC News, if only because an exclusive with Davis on the heels of a quote from the pope certainly looks good in print.
A receptionist at the Vatican Embassy allegedly confirmed to Glenn Beck run media outlet The Blaze that a meeting took place, even as the Vatican remains tight-lipped. Do with that information what you will.
I won’t say I feel Kim Davis is lying about having met Pope Francis. I will say that I require a version of alleged events from witnesses that are not Kim Davis, her husband, her lawyers, or the Liberty Counsel. These people are desperate to make Kim Davis a martyr for their anti-gay marriage cause. Tying Kim Davis to Pope Francis for this purpose is a clever way to inspire her supporters while also implying she’s doing it with “God’s blessing.”
With this in mind, I think it’s best to wait for an official statement from the Vatican with their version of events.