Let's start with this: the news that Pope Francis met with Kim Davis while in the United States was a great disappointment to me.
To this point, I’ve refrained from publicly voicing my opinion, because honestly, I didn’t believe it at first. (Or didn’t want to believe it.) Initially, the news was delivered by Ms. Davis’ attorneys, and their track record with truth and facts is dubious, as best. (They posted a year-old photo of a rally in Peru, claiming it was a gathering of Christians to pray for Ms. Davis. It wasn’t, but they refuse to retract the statement.)
I am not Catholic, nor even liturgical, but I have openly expressed my respect and admiration for this current Pope. (Not so much with the last one, for sure!) I knew we didn't agree on some issues, but I've publicly commend his stance on crucial global issues such as poverty, homelessness, immigration, climate change and war. (Our GOP candidates could learn much from him!)
Obviously, this Papal confab would negatively impact me if I were thinking of becoming Catholic, but that’s never gonna happen...any more than I’d join a Southern Baptist Church. The Catholic Church’s stance of homosexuals alone would prevent me from personally supporting it with my energies or my finances. Why would I invest in any organization (including political parties) that views me as “less than” in any way? (By the way, that’s my policy on any potential church I would join!)
But I admit, the meeting does confuse me.
On the surface, I could not imagine two more different people.
The Pope is known for his displays of grace and mercy; she is infamous for her defiant, arrogant legalism.
He has spoken against the kind of Fundamentalism we see in Ms. Davis. And as I understand the beliefs of her Fundamentalist segment of Christianity, she wouldn’t even consider the Pope to be a Christian.
To me, Pope Francis is educated, theologically thoughtful, and represents progress, compassion and inclusivity.
And I would not apply any of those words to Kim Davis.
Not that he needs my permission nor my approval, but the Pope can meet with anyone he chooses. He is a man of proven compassion, opting for a meal with the homeless over one with VIP politicians. He's met with leaders of other religious groups as well.
It’s clearly not my place to try and “explain” this meeting; there’s simply not enough information.
The Vatican confirms a meeting took place, but states no more details will be provide. Maybe that’s SOP, with clergy confidentiality and all. God works in mysterious ways, and it seems the Vatican intends to keep it that way!
So at this point, we don’t know what happened, or why it happened.
What really took place?
What did he say to her?
For him, it may have only been an opportunity to encourage another Christian, one who's been prominent lately for her beliefs. (I don't see beliefs as the main issue with Ms. Davis, but I covered that in an earlier entry.)
But for her, it’s definitely another chance to spotlight her radical viewpoint.
Pope Francis may have only met with her to offer a blessing.
Maybe his intent was to be helpful, but she is definitely being self-serving. She's presenting the incident as an official affirmation of her extremist (and illegal) actions. "Just knowing that the pope is on track with what we're doing...and agreeing [with us]...kind of validates everything to have someone of that stature."
Maybe she’s right, and he does side with her. Maybe he does see her as a champion of faith, standing against the immorality of marriage equality.
But it's only her story, and her integrity has yet to be established with me.
When all is said and done, I don't know!
I am absolutely not here to defend his actions or sanction this meeting; I'll leave that to his PR staff and millions of loyalists. (i.e., those who are not directly affected by someone refusing to recognize them as equal under the law!)
I am merely expressing my disappointment.
(Oh, and my concern at how this is being presented by Ms. Davis and her spin doctors as a religious validation from Upper Management!)
Like many progressive Christians, I had high hopes for this Pontiff.
I felt a kinship.
I was inspired.
Well, my respect is overshadowed by disillusionment.
Hurt has dampened my enthusiasm.
My admiration is challenged by confusion.
As in all wounds of the heart, time and future actions will determine the extent of healing and restored trust.
UPDATE: Following the publication of this entry, the Vatican finally released a brief statement about the Pope's meeting. One of the lines says "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."
I take this to mean what I said earlier: the account we have of that meeting comes solely from Ms. Davis and her attorneys, and their credibility should/must be questioned!
Also, as I implied in the post, the purpose of the meeting from the Pope's perspective would need to come the Vatican's PR team, and I believe that's what we see here.