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When The Pope Met Kim Davis

Archbishop Carla Maria Vigano has been trashed in the media recently for having blindsided Pope Francis with a meeting with Kim Davis during the pope’s US trip. The idea is that Vigano set up Francis to meet an American culture war figure, which embarrassed the pope. On LifeSite News today, Vigano gives his account of what happened. Excerpts:

At the end of the dinner, at the Nunciature in Washington, on the evening of September 23, 2015, I told the Pope that I needed him to grant me a half hour, because I wished to bring to his attention, and possible approval, a delicate and easily achievable initiative; that is, to meet personally and in a completely confidential way, out of the media spotlight, with Kim Davis, a clerk in Rowan County, Kentucky, the first American citizen condemned and imprisoned for one week for having exercised her right to conscientious objection.

At the beginning of our meeting, on the evening of September 23, I gave the Pope a one-page memo summarizing the Davis case (here attached in Italian and English). The Pope immediately appeared in favor of such an initiative, but added that the meeting would have political implications, and said, “I don’t understand these things, so it would be good for you to hear Cardinal Parolin’s opinion.” [emphasis in original — RD]

Cardinal Pietro Parolin is the Vatican Secretary of State, the No. 2 official. Vigano then explains that he went to Parolin’s hotel, and finding that Parolin had turned in for the night, met with two lower officials. Once they satisfied themselves that there was no canonical reason not to go ahead with the Davis meeting, Vigano presented the plan to the pope:

The following morning, after the Mass that the Pope concelebrated with us in the Nunciature, I informed the Pope of the positive opinion of his two principal collaborators, who had then told Cardinal Parolin about our meeting. The Pope then gave his consent, and I organized to have Davis come to the Nunciature without anyone noticing, by having her sit in a separate room.

So the Pope said yes to the event, according to Vigano. More:

Before the meeting took place, I alerted the photographer from L’Osservatore Romano that he should not release the photographs of the meeting without the permission of his superiors. He of course observed the orders, but took many photographs, which have never been published, and are currently kept in the photographic archive of L’Osservatore Romano. I also had Davis promise me in advance that she would not give any news to the media until after the Pope’s return to Rome, at the end of his pastoral visit to the USA. Davis faithfully kept her promise.

Early in the afternoon of September 24, before leaving for New York City, the Pope entered as planned into the sitting room where Davis and her husband were waiting for him. He embraced her affectionately, thanked her for her courage, and invited her to persevere. Davis was very moved and started crying. She was then taken back to her hotel in a car driven by a pontifical gendarme, accompanied by an American Monsignor and staff member of the Nunciature.

Vigano goes on to explain that this only became an issue once word got out in the US media that the Pope had met with Kim Davis. More:

In an article of September 30, 2015, the New York Times reported that “Vatican officials initially would not confirm that the meeting occurred, finally doing so on Wednesday afternoon, while refusing to discuss any details.” The Vatican Press Office then issued a statement — without their superiors in the Secretariat of State ever consulting me — stating that the Pope had never received Davis in a private audience, and that at most he may have greeted her among many other people before departing for New York. Father Rosica and Father Lombardi increased added to the lies, and were quoted as follows in the October 2, 2015 edition of the New York Times: “But the Rev. Thomas Rosica, a Vatican spokesman, said on Friday that the office of Archbishop Viganò had extended the invitation to Ms. Davis and that the Pope was probably not briefed about her case. And the Rev. Federico Lombardi, the chief Vatican spokesman, depicted the meeting as one meet-and-greet among many.” This is the transparency of the Holy See under Pope Francis!

So they threw both Vigano and the truth under the bus to appease the pro-gay media. So, why is Vigano bringing this up now? Because:

As mentioned at the beginning, on August 28, 2018, the New York Times reported an interview with Juan Carlos Cruz, in which Cruz reported that during his meeting with the Pope, in April 2018, the Pope told him about the Davis case. According to Cruz, the Pope said: “I did not know who the woman was and he [Msgr. Viganò] snuck her in to say hello to me — and of course they made a whole publicity out of it. And I was horrified and I fired that Nuncio.”

One of them is lying: either Cruz or the Pope? What is certain is that the Pope knew very well who Davis was, and he and his close collaborators had approved the private audience. Journalists can always check, by asking the prelates Becciu, Gallagher and Parolin, as well as the Pope himself.

Read the whole thing. 

Rome-based journalists should do so. Vigano has given names, dates, and specifics. If he’s lying, then these Vatican officials should say so, and point out the lies. If not, it is fair to assume that Vigano has once again exposed how the Vatican under Francis works. It would appear that there is no lie they won’t tell to protect the Pope’s progressive, “who am I to judge?” bona fides.

Again: this is all checkable. If journalists in Rome want to know the answer, that is.

By the way, in this CNN report, Davis recalls being embraced — literally and figuratively — by the pope. Vatican journalist John Allen points out that the Davis meeting alters the received narrative of who Francis is, saying that yes, he’s a liberal reformer, but in some ways he’s standing by Catholic teaching. You can see, then, why people like Father Thomas Rosica and other liberals were eager to discredit Vigano. What a disgrace that Francis, having seen how the world’s media spun the event, joined in the revisionist history:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F7YTSS1Jz8s&w=525&h=300]

UPDATE: A Catholic priest e-mails to say:

If Vigano’s account of the Francis-Davis meeting is correct, then they subsequently tossed not only Vigano under the bus, but Kim Davis as well! Think about that. This Christian laywoman would have been used and cast aside by the Pope and the curia to score PR points. Vigano is a big boy and as an ambassador is accustomed to taking heat for his superiors. BUT THIS INNOCENT WOMAN WOULD HAVE BEEN DRAWN INTO THE EMBRACE OF THE POPE ONLY TO BE UTTERLY DISAVOWED BY HIM UNDER A FALSE STORY THAT HE HAD BEEN DUPED INTO MEETING HER. Not perhaps the best way to share the Gospel and mercy of Christ with a non-Catholic.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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