UPDATE: NYTimes reports
On Wednesday, the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, confirmed the meeting, but he declined to elaborate. “I do not deny that the meeting took place, but I have no other comments to add,” he said.
Major news outlets are reporting that Kentucky clerk Kim Davis met privately with Pope Francis during his time in Washington, D.C., according to her lawyers, but the Vatican has still not confirmed or denied the meeting.
Addressing reports that Pope Francis met privately with controversial Kentucky clerk Kim Davis during his U.S. visit, the Vatican isn’t denying the meeting took place. Davis, who has refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, says she met the pope at the Vatican embassy in Washington.
Offering no comment on the previously unannounced meeting, the Vatican would neither confirm nor deny that it took place.
“I never thought I would meet the Pope,” Davis said via her legal team. “Who am I to have this rare opportunity? I am just a County Clerk who loves Jesus and desires with all my heart to serve him.”
Davis’s legal team, through Mat Staver of the Liberty Counsel, has indicated photos will be released. According to their report, the Pope gave Davis two rosaries. While she is Apostolic Christian (Pentecostal), her mother is Catholic, according to Religion News. From the BBC:
Pope Francis “thanked her for her courage” and told her to “stay strong”, Mr Stavers said.
The Pope was asked for his views on the question of government officials refusing to discharge their duties because of their religious beliefs during his return from the US on Sunday.
He told reporters on his flight back to Rome that conscientious objection was a “human right”.
Commentary in Religion News:
Inside the Vatican editor Robert Moynihan, who has covered the Vatican for years, said Davis recounted the meeting to him shortly after it took place.
The meeting would seem to be a stunning coda to the pope’s visit, which may be one reason why the Vatican on Wednesday seemed eager to avoid engaging it further, declining to either confirm or deny that the meeting took place…
…Throughout the trip, Francis seemed to studiously avoid political landmines and repeatedly urged his bishops to avoid harsh language and culture war battles — and the Kim Davis case has been one of the year’s biggest rallying cries for the religious right.
The Vatican’s silence leaves questions unanswered:
How the Davis-Francis meeting came about, however, is a mystery. Staver told the New York Times that Vatican officials set up the meeting and U.S. bishops were not involved.
“We did not want to release the information up to this time, nor did the Vatican, because the Vatican wanted to focus its message on a lot of issues (during the papal visit), and at the right time we ultimately released the information and the Vatican gave us the opportunity to do so,” Staver said.
He said that while Davis’ team wanted to broadcast news of the meeting right away, they also knew it would overshadow the “broader message” Francis wanted to bring to the U.S. Francis returned to the Vatican early Monday morning.