Pope’s gay friend claims activists should credit Francis for steps to advance LGBT cause
WASHINGTON, D.C., November 6, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- The homosexual friend of Pope Francis who took his partner to meet the Catholic pontiff in DC in September is now defending the pope from gay activist critics upset over the controversial meeting with Kim Davis. Instead, Yayo Grassi claims, gay activists should credit Francis for his efforts to change the Church’s attitude on homosexual issues.
Word of the pope’s meeting with Grassi and his boyfriend, their second meeting as a couple with the pontiff, came immediately after the Vatican took steps to distance itself from Davis. After the news came out about the pope’s meeting with Davis, Vatican spokesmen rebuffed news headlines by claiming the audience with Grassi and his partner was “the only real audience” at the U.S. nunciature that day.
Grassi, a former student of the pope’s, said that Pope Francis is taking steps to change the Church on LGBT issues, and also claims the pope has told him that he never made some of the strongest statements in support of marriage attributed to him while still a cardinal in Argentina.
“He said as a matter of fact he never expressed himself about this question (gay marriage),” said Grassi. “And he ended up by saying something that to me is so important. He said, ‘believe me, in my pastoral work there is no place for homophobia.’”
"He has never been judgmental," said Grassi, who says the pope has always known of his same-sex inclination and relationships. "He has never said anything negative."
Initially reports said the pope had met with Davis, who had been jailed for refusing to issue “marriage” licenses to same-sex couples, and told her to stay strong amidst the attacks she’d been under for refusing to capitulate to support for homosexual “marriage.”
However circumstances surrounding the meeting then took a bizarre turn as the Vatican press office would neither confirm nor deny the meeting with Davis.
This was then followed by a Vatican statement distancing Pope Francis from her, asserting their meeting was not a real audience and “should not be considered a form of support of her position in all of its particular and complex aspects.”
However the Holy Father had reaffirmed support for Davis’ stance on his way back to Rome, telling journalists on the flight it was a human right for government officials to refuse to conduct a duty that violates their conscience.
The pope’s defense of Davis, and then the news of the meeting, brought a major backlash from the left. It was this vitriol toward the Holy Father that convinced Grassi to speak up, he says.
“So I thought it is my friend who is being attacked,” he said. “The least I can do is defend him with the facts that I know. I don’t have to lie. All I have to do is tell exactly what happened.”
“One of the things that upset me extremely and profoundly was that people who were so much in love with this Pope immediately turned against him,” Grassi said in an interview with the homosexual publication Washington Blade. “And I was telling my friends how can you forget everything this guy did? How can we forget these things for something that this woman said that we don’t even know is true or not?”
“To me it was a meeting with a friend of mine,” Grassi stated of his encounter with Pope Francis. “It was a meeting between two friends…who love each other and I admire him deeply. That would have been the end of the story and I wouldn’t have you here sitting in my kitchen if it wasn’t that this lady Kim Davis came out with this information saying she got a private audience with him.”
Davis’ attorneys have maintained the facts around the pope’s meeting with her, that the encounter was private and initiated by the Vatican.
Davis is currently appealing to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn four lower-court decisions, reversing two injunctions against Davis and grant her an injunction from having to follow the Supreme Court's marriage ruling, as well as overturn the contempt of court decision that landed her in jail.
Grassi’s version of the pope’s opposition to Argentina’s 2010 redefinition of marriage when he was a cardinal there differs from media reports on then-Cardinal Bergoglio’s statements, with his alleging the pope had disavowed his comments in defense of marriage during the country’s debate over the law.
"Let's not be naive, we're not talking about a simple political battle; it is a destructive pretension against the plan of God," said then Cardinal Bergoglio. "We are not talking about a mere bill, but rather a machination of the Father of Lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God."
The future Pope Francis also requested the clergy of his parishes read a declaration defending marriage from the pulpit, saying as well the bill to redefine marriage “could gravely injure the family,” and called into question "the identity, and the survival of the family: father, mother, and children."
Grassi recounted when he’d read in the news that Cardinal Bergoglio had said “quite strong and negative things about gay marriage.”
“I was extremely surprised when I saw that,” he said. “So I fired an email to him explaining to him how much I owed him, what an important person he was in my life, how much he developed my most progressive thoughts in my life and that I was disappointed to hear that he was saying these negative things about gay people and about gay marriage.”
Grassi said the letter was lengthy, in which he mentioned his boyfriend by name and told him how they’d been together 14 years, to which Grassi said he received a “beautiful reply – a very loving reply,” from the pope.
“He started by apologizing because he had hurt me, because I was hurt,” Grassi stated. “And immediately after that he said I have never said any of those things that the press is publishing about me.”
It was then Grassi said the future Holy Father stated he’d never spoken on the issue, and that there was no place in his pastoral work for homophobia.
Grassi further disputes any assumption that Pope Francis is not on board with the goals of homosexual activists, and contends the Holy Father is putting forth genuine effort to affect change in the Church for LGBT individuals.
“What I can say is we have to recognize the small steps that Pope Francis has taken and that considering the place where he comes from are actually giant steps,” stated Grassi. “It’s not that the man does not want to do it. He has a timing for things. He has a way of saying things that are so extraordinary and making them with small steps.”