Via a statement to Vatican Radio, Father Federico Lombardi, spokesperson for the Holy See, said the meeting was “brief” and “should not be considered a form of support of her position.”
“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,” Lombardi said.
Lombardi said Francis met with several dozen persons invited by the Nunciature as he prepared to leave D.C. for New York City, indicating the meeting with Davis wasn’t a “real audience.”
“Such brief greetings occur on all papal visits and are due to the Pope’s characteristic kindness and availability,” Lombardi said. “The only real audience granted by the Pope at the Nunciature was with one of his former students and his family.”
Although the Vatican downplays the meeting, the statement marks the first time the Holy See has explicitly acknowledged it took place. Previously, the Holy See had it “won’t deny” the meeting, but had no further comment.
The statement comes a full two days after the news broke about the meeting. During that time, observers speculated it meant the pope’s message of “tolerance and inclusion” wasn’t intended for LGBT people.
According to CBS 2 in Chicago, Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich spoke out for the first time on the meeting on Wednesday in Chicago before leaving for Rome, saying don’t read too much into the exchanged. A highly placed source inside the Vatican claims the Pope was blindsided, CBS 2 reported.
Liberty Counsel, the social conservative legal firm representing Davis, announced late Tuesday Davis met with the pope last week during his visit to D.C. According to Liberty Counsel, the pope thanked Davis for her courage and gave her and her husband rosaries he personally. Meanwhile, LGBT advocates who were pressing Francis to meet with LGBT Catholics say their request for a meeting was ignored.
After the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage nationwide, Davis, an Apostolic Christian, instituted a “no licenses” policy in her office, prompting a lawsuits from couples, gay and straight, who sought to wed in Rowan County. Despite multiple court orders, Davis continued to refuse marriage licenses, prompting U.S. District Judge David Bunning to find her in contempt of court and jail her for five days. A deputy clerk in Rowan Clerk is now issuing licenses in Davis’ stead.
Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said he was glad to hear the Vatican statement on the pope’s meeting and called for more inclusion.
I'm glad the Vatican doesn't endorse her views and hope we can move toward greater inclusion. http://t.co/IWNPkER3Of
— Chad Griffin (@ChadHGriffin) October 2, 2015