The Vatican has clarified the nature of Pope Francis' Washington D.C. meeting with Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis, downplaying the incident as a "brief greeting." The pontiff faced criticism over his interaction with Davis, a figurehead in the fight against same-sex marriage. The Vatican explained that the pope's meeting with Davis "should not be considered a form of support of her position."
"The brief meeting between Mrs. Kim Davis and Pope Francis at the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, D.C. has continued to provoke comments and discussion," the Vatican said in a statement. "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."
Among those receiving a "real audience" with the pope was longtime friend Yayo Grassi, who is openly gay and a former classmate of the pontiff from Argentina. Grassi, his partner Iwan and several friends met with Pope Francis when he was in New York September 23rd; the pope embraced Grassi during their meeting, CNN reports.
"He has never been judgmental. He has never said anything negative," Grassi told CNN. "Obviously he is the pastor of the church and he has to follow the church's teachings, but as a human being he understands all kinds of situations, and he is open to all kinds of people, including those with different sexual characteristics."
The Vatican stressed that point as well in its statement: "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."