October 22, 2015 (LC) — On September 29, Inside the Vatican and Liberty Counsel both announced that Pope Francis met privately with Kim Davis on September 24. Since the announcement, there has been a wide variety of reporting ranging from some who deny any meeting occurred to others who admit a meeting occurred but that Kim Davis was merely one of many in a sea of faces. The fact is, Kim Davis was invited to a private meeting with the Pope and did meet privately with him on the afternoon of September 24, during which meeting Pope Francis said to Kim, “I want to thank you for your courage” and “Stay strong.” Below are the facts:
1. While Kim Davis was in jail on September 3, 2015, Inside the Vatican reported, “A Church source advises that Francis may soon decide to delegate a personal representative to visit Kim on his behalf.”
2. After spending six days in jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses, Kim Davis returned to work on September 14 and that evening received an invitation from the Vatican Embassy for a private meeting with Pope Francis on Thursday afternoon, September 24. Between that time and the private meeting and thereafter, Kim Davis and her lawyers maintained communication with the Vatican Embassy about the private meeting with the Pope, Liberty Counsel’s press release, and the approval to release it on Tuesday, September 29, around 8:15 PM.
3. Kim Davis and her lawyer, Mat Staver, were originally scheduled to arrive in Washington on the afternoon of September 24, but since the meeting was scheduled for early afternoon, both changed their plans to arrive late Wednesday evening. Mat Staver canceled his appearance for a speaking engagement at the American Association of Christian Counselors World Conference in Nashville, Tennessee, which speaking event had been scheduled since early in the year. On the evening of September 23, Kim Davis received a voice message on her cell phone and a text message about the meeting the next day. She spoke later that evening with the Nuncio about the private meeting. On the morning of September 24, Kim received another voice message and later spoke with the Nuncio. Her pickup was scheduled for 1:15 p.m., and she was instructed to wear her hair up because she is so recognizable.
4. On September 24 at 1:15 p.m., a van with two security officers, both with heavy Italian accents, picked up Kim and Joe Davis from the Omni Shoreham. Mat Staver and several other members of Liberty Counsel escorted Kim and Joe to the van and waited for their return in the lobby of the hotel. Mat Staver remained in contact with Kim.
5. Kim and Joe Davis were driven past security into the back of the Vatican Embassy where the attached garage is located. Kim speaks of the visit: “We entered the Vatican through where the Nuns come in, past the area where there was a bathroom. From the front of the building, the room we were in was to the right. There was another room where a lot of people were gathered but I was escorted to a private room separate from where the group of people were located.” These people were in a separate room. This is presumably the people the Vatican spokesperson, Rev. Federico Lombardi, referred to in his statement, but Kim was not part of that group. Dick and Mary Jo Copeland were a part of a group of 15 who met with the Pope that afternoon.
The Vatican has now released photographs of the Pope’s visit, including September 24 at the Vatican Embassy. The 22 pages of pictures show that the Pope did meet with a group of people, but there is no picture of Kim Davis. To view the photos visit https://www.photovat.com. Then click through the following path (1) Entra – Eventi 2015, (2) Settembre – September 19/28.09.2015, (3) Viaggio Apostolico Cube E USA, (4) 22-28 Settembre Viaggio Apostolico In USA, (5) Under 24-09-2015 Congedo Nunziaturia Apostolica, (6) Pages 1-22 then contain all the group photos. Rev. Thomas Rosica, a priest in Canada who assists Lombardi but who was not present, hypothesized that Kim was merely part of a large group in a receiving line, but the photographs prove him wrong. Kim was not part of a large group, nor was she in a receiving line.
6. Kim was escorted through a room with pictures of 21st Century Popes into a room with pictures of 20th Century Popes. Kim continues, “We went in through a door off a hallway where there was an old high-back bench in front of double-locked doors. We went into the room where I took pictures of paintings of Popes.”
7. Kim continues, “The Nuncio came in and sat in the chair to my right. We talked a bit and he left. The Monsignor brought us a tray with three glasses, ice, a bottle of sparkling water and a bottle of regular water. This room was filled with portraits of all the 20th century Popes.”
8. Kim continues, “The Monsignor came in and talked to us in length. I commented how beautiful the room was, and he revealed a secret to me about the room. The walls are wallpapered, but, a while ago, there was an issue with the walls in the far right corner, which joins the wall that faces the front of the building. The wall had to be repaired and they couldn't match the wallpaper, so they hired a lady to paint the repaired wall to match the existing wallpaper. The Monsignor told me to feel the wall, and sure enough, it went from smooth wallpaper to rough and textured painting. The area of the wall I am talking about is seen in the picture of me. It starts about even with the small table that has the lamp and the picture of the Nuncio and the Pope.”
9. Pope Francis entered that room soon afterwards. He stretched out his hands. Kim clasped his hands, and they hugged. Pope Francis said, “I want to thank you for your courage and ask that you please pray for me.” Kim said she would, and she asked the Pontiff to pray for her, to which he said he would. Pope Francis then presented Kim and Joe with two Rosaries (one black in a red jewelry box and one white in a white jewelry box, both with the Vatican seal of Pope Francis. Pope Francis then said, “Stay strong.”
10. The Pope exited the room and got into a black Fiat. “I could see him from the window of the room where we met, the room with the pictures of the 20th Century Popes,” Kim said.
11. Kim continues to describe her movements after Pope Francis exited the room, entered into the Fiat, and the people in the other room she had walked by earlier had left. “Across from the room we exited, there was another room with a beautiful painting of Pope Francis that had not yet been hung on the wall. I actually got a picture with the artist that painted it.” Note, this brand new painting had been unveiled to the Pope by the artist on September 24. See https://www.photovat.com. Then click through the following path (1) Entra – Eventi 2015, (2) Settembre – September 19/28.09.2015, (3) Viaggio Apostolico Cube E USA, (4) 22-28 Settembre Viaggio Apostolico In USA, (5) Under 24-09-2015 Congedo Nunziaturia Apostolica, (6) Page 17 shows a meeting of Pope Francis with five people, including the artist who unveiled the new painting of him. Page 18 shows the unveiling of the painting. This painting had been unveiled before Kim was brought to the room. The four other people were not in the room, but the artist came in and had his picture taken with Kim Davis as they stood alongside the new painting.
12. Before leaving, the Monsignor showed Kim and Joe Davis the Chapel. They met the head Nun and her next-in-line. Kim and Joe exited the Vatican from the same room they entered. “I took a picture of a statue that is on a table as I exited. It was a statue of Jesus with little children,” Kim said.
13. The Monsignor drove Kim and Joe Davis to the Omni Shoreham in a grey Ford Taurus that had a diplomatic license plate.
14. On September 27, Pope Francis spoke with journalists on his return flight to Rome. The Pontiff answered a question specific to Kim Davis’s case. Below is the exchange between ABC’s Terry Moran and Pope Francis on conscientious objection:
Terry Moran, ABC News: Holy Father, thank you, thank you very much and thank you to the Vatican staff as well. Holy Father, you visited the Little Sisters of the Poor and we were told that you wanted to show your support for them and their case in the courts. And, Holy Father, do you also support those individuals, including government officials, who say they cannot in good conscience, their own personal conscience, abide by some laws or discharge their duties as government officials, for example in issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Do you support those kinds of claims of religious liberty?
Pope Francis: I can’t have in mind all 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. Conscientious objection must enter into every juridical structure because it is a right, a human right. Otherwise we would end up in a situation where we select what is a right, saying “this right that has merit, this one does not.” It (conscientious objection) is a human right. It always moved me when I read, and I read it many times, when I read the “Chanson de Roland” when the people were all in line and before them was the baptismal font and they had to choose between the baptismal font or the sword. They had to choose. They weren’t permitted conscientious objection. It is a right and if we want to make peace we have to respect all rights.
Terry Moran, ABC News: Would that include government officials as well?
Pope Francis: It is a human right and if a government official is a human person, he has that right. It is a human right. (emphasis added)
15. After the content and the timing of Liberty Counsel’s public statement was approved by a Vatican Embassy official, on Tuesday, September 29, about 8:15 p.m., Liberty Counsel issued a press release about Kim’s visit with the Pope. Inside the Vatican broke the story and Liberty Counsel issued its press release immediately thereafter.
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16. On October 2, Rev. Federico Lombardi issued the following statement. It was carefully worded. No one suggested that Pope Francis and Kim Davis spoke about the “details of the situation” of Kim’s case, and no one suggested that the meeting was an endorsement of Kim’s “position in all of its particular and complex aspects.” The highlighted words are very specific and limited and reveal the statement is not meant to distance the Pope from the broader conscientious objection issue involved in Kim’s case. This conclusion is made obvious by the clear statement of the Pope that a government official who refuses to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples has the right of conscientious objection because it is a human right. Below is the statement of Rev. Lombardi:
“Pope Francis met with several dozen persons who had been invited by the Nunciature to greet him as he prepared to leave Washington for New York City. Such brief greetings occur on all papal visits and are due to the Pope’s characteristic kindness and availability. The only real audience granted by the Pope at the Nunciature was with one of his former students and his family. 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.” (emphasis added)
The points can be summarized as follows: (1) Prior to Kim Davis receiving an invitation to meet with the Pope, and while she was in jail, a Vatican church official was reported to have told a reporter that Pope Francis was considering sending a personal representative to visit her; (2) On the first day she returned to work, September 14, in the evening Kim received an unsolicited invitation for a private meeting with the Pope; (3) On September 23 and 24, the Nuncio spoke with Kim about the private meeting; (4) As instructed, Kim wore her hair up and was picked up by Papal security and escorted to the Vatican Embassy; (5) Kim passed by a room with some people in it, but she was escorted instead to a private room she described in great detail; (6) The Nuncio came into the room and sat beside her and talked; (7) The Monsignor came into the room and spoke with Kim and explained the room to her; (8) Pope Francis entered the room and spoke with Kim, and said, “I want to thank you for your courage” and “Stay strong,” and he presented her with a gift of two Rosaries, both with the Vatican seal of Pope Francis; (9) The Pope left the room and entered the Fiat; (10) The Monsignor showed Kim the Chapel, and she met the head Nun and her next-in-line; (11) The Monsignor drove Kim and Joe back to the Omni Shoreham in a grey Ford Taurus having a diplomatic license plate; (12) On Sunday while on the Papal plane, the Pope was asked a question about whether a government official who objects to issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples should have the right of conscientious objection, to which the Pontiff said yes, because it is a human right; (13) On Tuesday night around 8:15 p.m., Inside the Vatican broke the story about Kim’s visit with the Pope and, with the content and timing of the statement approved by Vatican officials, Liberty Counsel issued a press release a few minutes later, linking to the story; (14) On Friday morning Rev. Federico Lombardi issued a statement acknowledging that the Pontiff did meet with Kim Davis and also said the “Pope did not enter into the details of the situation with Mrs. Davis” and that his “meeting with her should not be considered a form of support of her position in all of its particular and complex aspects”; (15) Lombardi’s assistant, Rev. Rosica, a priest in Canada who was not present, hypothesized that Kim was part of a large group in a receiving-line; and (16) the Vatican has now released photographs of all the group meetings with the Pope at the Vatican Embassy on September 24, and Kim Davis in not pictured in any of the 22 pages, thus revealing that Rev. Rosica’s assumption about Kim being merely part of a large group in a receiving line is wrong, because, in fact, Kim met the Pope in a private meeting.
Based on the above indisputable facts, the obvious conclusion is (1) Kim Davis was invited to a private meeting with Pope Francis; (2) Kim Davis was picked up at her hotel by Vatican security and escorted to a private room at the Vatican Embassy; (3) While there was a group of other people at the Vatican Embassy at the same time to meet with the Pope, these people were in a separate room; (4) Kim met privately in a separate room with the Nuncio, the Monsignor, and later with Pope Francis; (5) During the meeting Pope Francis said, “I want to thank you for your courage” and “Stay strong” and presented her with a gift of two Rosaries; and (6) When asked on the Papal plane whether a governmental official who refuses to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples should have the right of conscientious objection, the Pope said yes because it is a human right.
Under these facts, there is no question that Pope Francis knew who Kim Davis was before he entered the room to meet with her privately. If he did not know her or know about her, his statements “I want to thank you for your courage” and “Stay strong” would make no sense. Moreover, the question presented to him on the Papal plane obviously arose out of the situation involving Kim Davis, to which the Pontiff said such a governmental official who refuses to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples has a human right to conscientious objection.
Reprinted with permission from Liberty Counsel.