In the latest case to cast doubt on the ability of the Vatican to tell the truth, its former ambassador to the US, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, has said the Vatican lied when it refuted claims Pope Francis held a private audience with notorious homophobe Kim Davis.
Many news agencies at the time reported on the alleged meeting but the Vatican issued a firm denial, saying “the Pope had never received Davis in a private audience, and that at most he may have greeted her among many other people.”
Archbishop Viganò gave a statement to Lifesitenews, a religious website, saying the Vatican lied, and provided his own version of events – “At the end of the dinner…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.”
The statement continues “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’.”
After much talk amongst advisers, the meeting was organised. “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.”
Some have accused the Archbishop of sour grapes, saying he has a vendetta against the Vatican since leaving his role as Apostolic Nuncio. Viganò himself said his revelation was prompted by a New York Times article which said he was fired for his role in organising the meeting when Pope Francis told a listener “I did not know who the woman was and he 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.”
However, Viganò insists those at the Vatican lied. “What is certain is that the Pope knew very well who Davis was, and he and his close collaborators had approved the private audience.”
Davis made headlines when she refused to issue marriage licences to same-sex couples citing religious freedom. She espoused gay weddings were destroying the sanctity of marriage despite she herself being on her fourth, with three divorces under her belt. Davis was jailed in contempt of court yet released after five days. She quickly became a poster girl for the religious right, even releasing a biography about her ‘struggles’ called Under God’s Authority. Her apparent meeting with the Pope was used by her supporters as proof the Catholic Church agreed with her anti-LGBT+ views.
The Vatican recently came under fire when it was revealed they erased Pope Francis’ remarks suggesting gay children be brought to a psychiatrist from their official accounts. When the story was initially reported, many accused the press of twisting the Pope’s words when the Vatican released an amended version.
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