Streets lined with hundreds of thousands of exhilarated believers, a packed joint session of Congress, mothers casting their babies into the hands of Vatican aides for the chance to be touched by the Holy Father: these were the sights that Pope Francis saw on his first trip to the United States. It was a whirlwind six-day tour of three American cities. The Pope began his trip in Washington DC, travelling next to New York, and finally ending in Philadelphia.
For the most part, the American people welcomed Pope Francis with open arms and open hearts. His message resonated with Americans across all religions, uniting us with his call to be compassionate and charitable.
The goodwill that the American people extended to Pope Francis led many to feel that they had been duped and betrayed when initial reports revealed that the Pope had secretly met with Kim Davis, a Kentucky clerk notorious for her refusal to issue marriage licenses to gay couples who was subsequently sentenced to jail.
However, the initial report’s only source was Ms. Davis’ attorney, Mat Staver. Mr. Staver said that the Vatican reached out to Ms. Davis through a third party, who then put the two in touch. They arranged for Ms. Davis to be picked up and driven to the Vatican Embassy, where she would meet the Pope.
The initial report said that Pope Francis met with Ms. Davis for some fifteen minutes, and that the meeting ended with the two embracing and the Pope thanking Ms. Davis for her courage and telling her to “stay strong”.
At first, the Vatican neither confirmed nor denied that the meeting had taken place. The meeting was later confirmed by a Vatican spokesman. Forced to go on damage control, the Vatican tried to downplay Ms. Davis’ visit to the embassy as only one of dozens that occurred over the Pope’s visit.
The spokesman said that the meeting with Ms. Davis “should not be considered a form of support of her position.”
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