October 2, 2015 at 3:30 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Pope Francis has ‘private meeting’ with gay couple

Pope Francis, gay news, Washington Blade

Pope Francis on Sept. 23, 2015, met privately with a gay couple from his native Argentina. (Image courtesy of C-SPAN)

Pope Francis last week met with a gay couple while he was in D.C.

CNN reported the Argentine-born pontiff had a “private meeting” with Yayo Grassi, his partner, Iwan, and four other people at the Apostolic Nunciature in Northwest Washington on Sept. 23.

Grassi told CNN that Francis was his psychology and literature teacher at a Roman Catholic high school in the Argentine city of Santa Fe from 1964-1965. Grassi said the pontiff called him three weeks before arriving in the Americas and “said he would love to give me a hug.”

Grassi told CNN that Francis had previously known that he is gay, but had never spoken negatively about his sexual orientation.

“He has never been judgmental,” said Grassi.

News of the meeting came three days after the Liberty Counsel, an anti-LGBT group that represents Kim Davis, a Kentucky county clerk who refuses to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples because of her religious beliefs, announced their client met with Francis in D.C. on Sept. 24 before he traveled to New York.

Reverend Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesperson, on Friday described the meeting between Davis and Francis as “brief” and stressed it “should not be considered a form of support of her position.”

LGBT rights advocates welcomed Francis’ meeting with Grassi and his partner.

“It is heartening news that Pope Francis met privately with his friend and former student, Yayo Grassi, and his partner of 19 years, Iwan,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin. “It now not only appears that the pope’s encounter with Kim Davis has been mischaracterized, but that Pope Francis embraced these longtime friends.”

Frank DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, a Maryland-based group that advocates on behalf of LGBT Catholics, also welcomed the meeting between Grassi and Francis. DeBernardo nevertheless stressed that the pontiff should have “formal dialogues with LGBT Catholics to discuss church teaching, policy and pastoral practice.”

“While I am glad to hear the story of the Yayo Grassi meeting, I still wish that Pope Francis would be more forthcoming about his personal experiences and relationships with LGBT people,” said DeBernardo. “That kind of openness would set a great example for bishops and other church leaders who cringe at the thought of any association with LGBT people or issues.”

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

4 Comments
  • So major media reports the Pontiff meeting with a anti-equality obstructionist like Kim Davis, but says nothing about this meeting?

    Sounds nmanufactured.

  • “It is heartening news that Pope Francis met privately with his friend and former student, Yayo Grassi, and his partner of 19 years, Iwan,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin. “It now not only appears that the pope’s encounter with Kim Davis has been mischaracterized, but that Pope Francis embraced these longtime friends.”
    ——————————————-
    Utter bullshot. That’s a wishful-thinking stretch… and the soft bigotry of low expectations.

    This whole lying spectacle has become more comical than heartening. It’s far more likely Francis knew exactly who he was meeting with, and the homophobia he was encouraging– on behalf of Archbishop Kurtz of Kentucky (Knoxville, Lexington) [see links below].

    The Pope and Vatican just expected to keep it quiet– until Kim’s lawyer decided to hype her infamy even more [book/ movie deal brewing???].

    That’s why the Vatican is falling all over themselves, now, a week later, to refute their evident hypocrisy– and replace it with a ‘some-of-our-best-friends-are-gay’ story line.

    HRC ought not be furthering the Vatican’s lies and homophobia.
    ——————————————–

    **Joseph Kurtz, the archbishop of Louisville, Kentucky, and the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, wouldn’t comment on the meeting itself and how it came about, noting that he stayed about a mile away from the nunciature where Pope Francis stayed during his visit to D.C. But “I can comment on the fact that in Kentucky, I had said that I’m not a lawyer or a politician, but I had certainly hoped that room could be made for people of conscience,” he said on Wednesday. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops was the primary coordinator of the pope’s schedule during his visit to the United States.**
    —The Atlantic

    http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/09/pope-francis-allegedly-met-with-kim-davis-what-does-it-mean/408166/

    http://www.usccb.org/news/2015/15-103.cfm

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/jun/26/bishops-blast-supreme-courts-same-sex-marriage-rul/

    • This Pope doesn’t really strike me as someone who cares what others think about his positions – he seems to stand for what he believes in regardless. I find it perfectly plausible that this meeting was hastily arranged by political insiders who have taken Davis on as their puppet, and the Pope gave her an impromptu brief shake of the hand and then handed her the standard rosaries they hand out. It was then Davis and her lawyers who lied and hyped it up to be a show of “support”, which the Vatican denies.

      • ‘Perfectly’ and ‘plausible’ are generally incongruent words.

        Plausible? Sure. That’s the first test for any not-entirely-truthful public excuse-making. But it is equally ‘plausible’ that Francis’ Vatican is covering up– to some extent– the pope’s private anti-gay animus as well.

        The larger problem is that, after two years, this is just another example of the duality and deception exhibited by this pope when it comes to LGBT human and civil rights.

        Certainly, it is clear this pope continues his official rhetorical expression of anti-gay hate and demonization of LGBT couples and families– especially married LGBT couples– by the Catholic Church.

        Why does that matter? Well, why does it matter that some hillbilly religious snake-handlers encourage– or force even force their kids– to handle lethally poisonous snakes?

        This pope continues to be psychologically abusive of LGBT and straight kids alike– kids who are not old enough to voluntarily step away from the specific anti-LGB hate, demonizations and discriminations of Francis’ Catholic Church.

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