LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — The Kentucky clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples claims she held a secret meeting with Pope Francis during his historic visit to the United States.
Vatican officials did not respond to an email asking for comment early Wednesday.
Kim Davis’ lawyer, Mat Staver, says Davis met with Pope Francis last Thursday afternoon at the Vatican Embassy in Washington, D.C., for less than 15 minutes.
From a statement released by Liberty Counsel, the legal group representing Davis in her fight to refuse to grant same sex marriage licenses …
The Pope met privately with Kim Davis and her husband, Joe, at the Vatican Embassy in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, September 24, which was the birthday of Kim’s father. Pope Francis spoke with Kim and Joe Davis in English.
During the meeting Pope Francis said, “Thank you for your courage.” Pope Francis also told Kim Davis, “Stay strong. He held out his hands and asked Kim to pray for him. Kim held his hands and said, “I will. Please pray for me,” and the Pope said he would. The two embraced. The Pontiff presented Kim and Joe Davis each with a Rosary that he personally blessed. Kim’s mother and father are Catholic, and Kim and Joe will present the Rosaries to her parents. Kim’s mother was the elected Clerk of Court for Rowan County for 37 years until her retirement in 2014.
Kim Davis said, “I was humbled to meet Pope Francis. Of all people, why me?” Davis continued, “I never thought I would meet the Pope. 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.” Kim said, “Pope Francis was kind, genuinely caring, and very personable. He even asked me to pray for him. Pope Francis thanked me for my courage and told me to ‘stay strong.'”
According to the New York Times, Davis’s lawyer, Matthew D. Staver, the Davises and Vatican officials agreed to keep the meeting secret until after the Pope returned to Italy because “we didn’t want the pope’s visit to be focused on Kim Davis.”
Davis, an Apostolic Christian, spent five days in jail earlier this month for defying a federal court order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. In a telephone interview late Tuesday, Staver would not say who initiated the meeting with the pope or how it came to be, though he did say that Vatican officials had inquired about Davis’ situation while she was in jail. He declined to name them.
Davis was in Washington for the Values Voter Summit, where the Family Research Council, which opposes same-sex marriage, presented her with an award for defying the federal judge.
Pope Francis did not focus on the divisive debate over same-sex marriage during his visit last week. As he left the country, he told reporters who inquired that he did not know Davis’ case in detail, but he defended conscientious objection as a human right.
TPM contributed to this report.