Pope Francis’ Meeting With Kim Davis Raises a Red Flag

Statement of Francis DeBernardo, Executive Director, New Ways Ministry

The news that Pope Francis met privately in Washington, DC with Kim Davis throws a wet blanket on the good will that the pontiff had garnered during his U.S. visit last week.  Davis is the Protestant Kentucky county clerk who defied a court order to issue licenses to lesbian and gay couples after she refused to do so, citing moral reason. Though some commentators are downplaying the significance of the meeting, the fact that it happened at all raises a red flag about where he stands on LGBT issues. The pope’s decision to meet Davis with  is a puzzling one for many reasons.

Kim Davis

First of all, Pope Francis had steered clear of getting involved in any particular political situation while visiting the U.S.  Though he spoke twice to audiences on the topic of religious liberty, he carefully avoided mentioning any individual case or example.  Indeed, as was noted earlier this week, some of his comments on religious liberty were easily interpreted as supporting LGBT people.

Second, there had been numerous calls for the pope to meet with LGBT Catholics and families while in the U.S., and the Vatican ignored them all.  Indeed, many other Catholics supporting other social justice issues also requested a chance to speak with the pope.  What was special about Kim Davis’ case that the pope decided to meet only with her? Moreover,  why did he do so secretly? In his remarks during the airplane interview on his way back to Rome, Francis was asked about exactly the type of case that Davis represents, and he refused to comment on any specific case.

Third, and even stranger is the fact that few Catholic bishops or organizations here in the U.S. have publicly supported Kim Davis’ cause.   Only Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas, and Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island, are on the record suggesting that clerks who oppose marriage equality should refuse to issue licenses.

Fourth, Pope Francis chastised U.S. bishops at least twice in his U.S. visit for being too blatantly political.  Why then would he himself make such a blatantly political act by meeting with Davis?

Fifth, in his remarks during the airplane interview on his way back to Rome, Francis was asked about exactly the type of case that Davis represents, and he refused to comment on any specific case.  Why did he not tell reporters then that he had met with her? After those remarks became public, New Ways Ministry had commented that the pope was incorrect in labeling the refusal to issue marriage licenses as conscientious objection.

Though LGBT and ally Catholics have welcomed Pope Francis’ affirming remarks,  many, including myself, have also remarked that he sometimes talks out of both sides of his mouth.  Moreover, while he is LGBT-positive in general ways, his remarks on specific moral and political issues are often at odds with his welcoming stance.   The time for vagueness, ambiguity, and secret meetings is over.   Pope Francis needs to state clearly where he stands in regard to the inclusion of LGBT people in the church and society.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry
67 replies
  1. Sharon Willey
    Sharon Willey says:

    Shortly after his election to the Chair of Peter, Pope Francis attended the World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro. At that time he told those in attendance to go home and stir things up. He himself is stirring things up. I think he is doing that so that people will be more open to the moving of the Holy Spirit and there will be a rebirth of church.

    • Peggy Ripp
      Peggy Ripp says:

      I wonder what the actual conversation was when he met with her. I’ll bet he told her she was being a bit too strong in her protest. Yes, pray for her and for Francis.

      • Brian Kneeland
        Brian Kneeland says:

        Doubtful that is what he said . He is smart enough to know he was excluding LGBT persons and rewarding those who discriminate is a terrible example of how he and his staff are working! It also tells Chaput he is right to keep us his discriminatory behavior.

  2. Barbara Weber-Chess
    Barbara Weber-Chess says:

    The question I have is this: was this meeting confirmed by sources outside of Ms Davis’ attorney? There is suggestion that this person has fabricated or inflated things before.
    Secondly, if the meeting did occur, we have, as I understand it, no external verification of what was said. For all we know, the Pope may have told Kim Davis that she should, for example, leave her job rather than cause further division. Lastly, we have no external verification of what the Pope was/ was not told regarding Kim Davis’ situation. It seems unlikely that he has the time to explore the facts of the case independently, and it is entirely possible that he was told half of a story.

  3. Maria Formoso
    Maria Formoso says:


  4. Bishop Carlos Florido, osf
    Bishop Carlos Florido, osf says:

    I agree with Francis DeBernardo when he states that Pope Francis’ position regarding LGBT individuals is extremely unclear and confusing. It seems that, if the Pope wishes to be open and honest, he should make his position on LGBT people lucid and not subject to misinterpretation!

    • poolgirl2
      poolgirl2 says:

      I imagine we have to also be conscientious objectors to inequality, regardless of the official Church position. Too bad he is not truly inclusive. Maybe she, like Boehner, should have resigned after her chat.

  5. Patricia
    Patricia says:

    I am so deeply saddened and disturbed by this news. I looked to Pope Francis as a glimmer of hope against bigotry and now it seems that might not be what I had thought. Time to rethink things. Can’t wait to hear what Fr. Jim Martin has to say about this.

  6. Father Anthony
    Father Anthony says:

    The Church is slow to change. Pope Francis has set us on a new course in spite of the fact he is old school. Who knows what came out of this meeting. Secrecy is a Vatican way. Nothing new. Lgbt rights in society have come a long way in a short time. As Francis said talk, forgive and move on.

  7. Kathleen
    Kathleen says:

    Honestly, the only action the Catholic Church can take to stop inflicting pain and suffering on lgbt persons, their families and friends is to rewrite official Church teachings about homosexuality documented in 1986. Anything short of that is fake I am sorry to say.

  8. John Calhoun
    John Calhoun says:

    Imperative to investigate who were the agents involved in arranging this visit and why? Vatican and/or US sources?

    Way of putting Francis in a difficult situation – unexpected and not of his own choosing? OR “expected and welcomed?

    • Barbara Cooper
      Barbara Cooper says:

      Yes. Recalling the history of Vatican intrigue, I too wonder who set this up and what the Pope knew. While the event is painful, I will not judge his intentions. Change is a difficult and ongoing process.

  9. Robert Shea
    Robert Shea says:

    I am shocked and dismayed that Pope Francis saw Kim Davis. His action hurts the LGBT community and significantly diminishes his total message. I believe it was a HUGE mistake to meet with her…and in secret!

  10. Rosa G. Manriquez, IHM
    Rosa G. Manriquez, IHM says:

    I am not a regular commentator, but this posting will make up for past silence…it’s going to be long.

    Who decides if I am a good person, Christian and/ or Catholic? According to my understanding of the Primacy of Conscience, that is determined by my conscience as formed by the Holy Spirit. My well-formed conscience is the voice of God directing my life. No layperson, religious, priest, bishop, cardinal or pope determines this. I answer to God.

    Concerning religious liberty I want to share a story from an incident in my life. I may have shared it before. Early in my career working as a recreation professional for the City of Los Angeles, I had the privilege of working with a dedicated volunteer. He was unemployed and was readily available to help out at my park. In October I was putting up a banner to advertise Halloween. I asked him to please help me by climbing a ladder to post it. He stated he couldn’t do that. I figured he might be afraid of heights (like me) or gotten injured on a ladder, hence the unemployed state. No matter, I asked him to help organize the box of Halloween decorations. He gently shared that he couldn’t do this because he was a Jehovah’s Witness. This is why he was unemployed. He had a good paying job with Northrup Grumman (I hope that’s right) and quit when he converted because they made weapons. He did not proselytize. He did not seek publicity or pats on the back for his action or sympathy. He was a man of integrity and I prayed for him regularly to find a job.

    Why are those who leaked the story so eager to relate all the gory, ambiguous details? This reminds me of the high school gossips or the office instigator who get their cheap thrills from watching conflict and pain. I feel more indignity at the manipulators in the media and Vatican than from the incident itself. My pain is no one’s entertainment!

    Concerning the story itself, this doesn’t change my impression of my brother, Francis. From the beginning I shared that he is not changing any institutional teachings, but he is changing the focus. He is telling us to be primarily pastoral. This is important. When we sit with the other and commit to witnessing their humanity as Jesus did throughout his ministry, we are opening the window for the Holy Spirit. And this can be very messy. He is still looking at the other through the lens of his experience which is fraught with homophobia and sexism. I don’t state this as a criticism. It is what it is. He is as human as any of us. But he is attempting to change the Catholic emphasis from primarily doctrinal to pastoral. You bet I pray for him.

    Did he meet with Kim Davis? I don’t particularly care. Did he meet with a variety of members of the LGBTQI community? I don’t think so. In Philadelphia all I saw was the highly orchestrated good Catholic gays put on display at the World Meeting of Families. Did that sound bitter? It is. I hurt very much concerning the snub felt by my family. But I’ll get over it because I’m not going away.

    If I had the opportunity to speak to Francis, I would invite him to an unpublicized stay with my family. It would be the opportunity to sit at our table without the censoring from the manipulators. If the topic of religious liberty came up, I would share the story of my volunteer. I would also point out that it is unseemly to compare a civil servant with job security in this free nation to the Middle Eastern Christians who are required by theocratic fundamentalist to convert to Islam or die. The separation of church and state is a safeguard against the establishment of a brutal theocracy. I would also ask for his prayers and assure him of my prayers for all my brothers and sisters, for the Roman Catholic Church and for him.

    It’s hard work being Catholic.

    • Chet
      Chet says:

      Thanks for your post. Very moving and compassionate. Change comes very slowly, but I believe one day we Catholics will reconcile our love for God and one another. I never thought I would live to see the day that homosexual couples could legally marry in the U.S..

  11. Mary-Ellen Mohring
    Mary-Ellen Mohring says:

    When I found out about the meeting, it really dampened my optimism. Made me extremely sad, actually. One can only hope that Pope Francis did not understand who he was meeting or that she stands for such intolerance. When considering civil servants who put their own views above the law, one wonders how the pope would feel if it was a conscience that discriminated against Catholics or Christians not LGBT people….

  12. Susanne M cassidy
    Susanne M cassidy says:

    As I watched the papal mass at home on TV, I found myself in tears as Francis welcomed all the families, that is all but our LGBT family members and families, I felt very sad.
    Today I am filled with rage after learning of his secret meeting with Kim Davis and him thanking her for her courage. After watching the pain on the faces on so many of our Very Courageous “baptized Catholic”, Equally Blessed pilgrims returning from the WMF sessions, I remain as I have always felt , cautiously optimistic, I once again feel betrayed & so very disappointed, he speaks of Mercy & compassion???? Words without action are hollow!

  13. Bill Freeman
    Bill Freeman says:

    Absolutely devastating. In this one action he has completely undermined his entire trip and message. And the clandestine nature of the meeting – under cloak of secrecy – rushed in and out of the embassy is sickening. There is no “nice way” to spin this. He is a master politician not JP2 at the end of his life. He knows exactly what he was doing and why he was doing it. Welcome to the past! Jesus wept.

  14. John Hilgeman
    John Hilgeman says:

    Francis, I am glad that you made these comments. Too often, those of us who are LGBT have been kicked to the curb by popes and other members of the hierarchy. I don’t know what we need to do to get their attention and response, but it is time for an end to being nice and settling for little crumbs.

  15. Chris
    Chris says:

    I think we need to understand that Pope Francis is a personalist, not an ideologist; and he primarily relates to people as people, not to the ideologies around their actions. I think it would be more correct to see his actions as compassionate for a woman who has been arrested and imprisoned for her conscience.

    The point he makes about the primary of conscience is an important one, and does not imply support for the principles behind whatever action conscience has inspired a person to take. He made this point clear on the plane.

    His point about the primacy of conscience, long taught by the Church, is one we all ought to treasure and value. It is central to all those in the Church who do not agree with every Catholic teaching.

    I’m not sure that pushing Pope Francis to take a position on some of the very controversial points in the Church is really very helpful – the position he takes may not be the one those pushing him to make really want. When debate and change in in flux, one needs to continue the debate and listen and think carefully. Not rush to take hardened positions.

    God Bless

  16. jemmbarr
    jemmbarr says:

    The hole in my heart remains open and it is still aching. I heard words of such beauty and elegance from our Pontiff as visited the USA. Pope Francis seemed to be asking Catholics and non-Catholics to offer a listening ear to the marginalized and to be ever present and tolerant to those in the cracks. I heard him refer to all of us as points on a sphere, points that should connect cohesively in love, one to another. I heard him speak to us to be mindful that trust, understanding and moral judgement are difficult in a world that has ideas that available in supermarket of thoughts. Pope Francis offered up hope for all of us in the unity of family life and in each other’s good will. I am a mother of two amazing LGBT adult children. I thought I was hearing words from Pope Francis that were shining light on our choices, choices as a family to love, support and encourage one another. As a follower of Jesus, I have looked to His example and words for guidance as a mother. I live to love, in tolerance, and in embracing my own children. I thought our Holy Father and his devotion to the Word of God was strengthening our very own family life and decisions. It is painful to think I could have been wrong. I can only hope that this meeting with Kim Davis was less a confirmation of status quo and more a moment necessary to help the Pontiff (and Ms. Davis) clarify the difference between one’s objection to something as a matter of conscience or as a matter of obstinacy. Pope Francis asked us all to open our hearts and to offer our hand openly to those living in the narrow spaces of this world. I can only imagine that Pope Francis offered those words to Kim Davis too. We weren’t there in the meeting. I can only hope this meeting was one that the Spirit of God touched. I continue to pray for Pope Francis on this issue. May his discernment on LGBT issues be clear, right and filled with love.

  17. gerrie burns
    gerrie burns says:

    Dear Frank Thank you for your honest take on the Kim Davis situation. Several times I thought Pope Francis was sitting on the “Catholic Fence”. Says a lot but means nothing. From what I heard the meeting was planned before he came to Phila . So much for spontaneity . What a terrible taste it leaves in our hearts.

  18. John Calhoun
    John Calhoun says:

    The Roman Church is a vestige of The Roman Empire. The Roman “paterfamilias” (Father of the Family) had complete control over its members – even unto death. Yet this “Inexhaustible delusion” today still marks explicitly or implicitly the mind-set and actions of the bishop/fathers. The Roman “church order” is an absurdity today and should be allowed to dissolve – no matter “how loving” the Father is or appears. Good intensions are insufficient now.

    Develop “in Christ” groups of your own with prayer, Eucharist and service of others and let this foolishness go out of your lives

    • poolgirl2
      poolgirl2 says:

      John, what you say makes a lot of sense. We still fall in lock step with the hierarchical structures, just part of our heritage, upbringing, and culture. I think we all believe that there have to be those in charge to keep things running smoothly. You definitely have given another point of view to consider. Thank you.

  19. Mary
    Mary says:

    I was hoping that the pope would have mentioned the harm and the hurt that the Catholic church has caused so many homosexuals and their families but instead he meets with Kim Davis and affirms her. I am disappointed in the Pope for not directly addressing the rejection of openly gay people in the church. I believe LGBT people and those who support them should be “conscientious objectors” to the church and its teachings. They should find another church which accepts them fully and unconditionally.

  20. Friends
    Friends says:

    I think…at least I hope and pray…that Pope Francis was in fact set up for a cruel public relations stunt by Kim Davis’ LAWYERS…from the far-right-wing law firm who have been representing her in court. If he had been properly briefed about the full implications of what was being set up as a political stunt by her lawyers, I think he would have been much more circumspect in his conversation with her. As it is, we have NO TRANSCRIPT of what they said to one another. We have only her lawyers’ self-serving version of the conversation. But I must also agree with Frank: Pope Francis’ emphasis on personalism, while it can be refreshing and endearing, can also be dangerous. Perhaps this will be a wake-up call to Francis and his advisers: that there are some ruthless political operatives out there, who have neither the Pope’s best interest, nor the best interest of the Catholic Church as a whole, as their underpinning motivation. Was Francis aware that she’s being paid a hefty $80,000 a year for REFUSING to perform the official duties for which she was elected? What sort of moral integrity does that sort of behavior imply?

  21. Kurt
    Kurt says:

    There are a lot of questions about this incident. It seems there was no private meeting but several score of people from various communities. It has been suggested that Davis was given a ticket or was the guest of another person present. There is no evidence (or even a claim by Davis’ lawyers) that the Pope invited her there. And if the Vatican was trying to make a statement, why did they say nothing about this?

    • Friends
      Friends says:

      Thanks, Kurt! That’s the first I’ve heard of ANY of this additional but significant information. Is there a source link for viewing this hidden “back story”, which is apparently crucial but largely unknown? I could very well see Francis trying to be polite and civil to a group of guests — and I could also see Davis’ propaganda machine trying to make the most of the situation, for her own ideological purposes.

  22. kittkatt123
    kittkatt123 says:

    Thank you for a powerful and well reasoned statement! The Pope undermined his own message of tolerance and dialogue by meeting secretly with a divisive figure from the opponents of marriage equality.

  23. Brian Kneeland
    Brian Kneeland says:

    He also lied on his plane on the way home to Rome when he said he knew nothing about the case. I find that quite disturbing!

  24. Chris Chris Wolfe
    Chris Chris Wolfe says:

    A few years ago in 2010 Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio (Pope Francis) wrote a book called, “Sobre el cielo y la tierra” (English: Heaven and Earth). It’s a book of conversations between cardinal Jorge Bergoglio and the Argentine rabbi Abraham Skorka. Predominately the book is about faith, family and the Catholic Church in the 21st century. It was first published in Spanish 2010 and, as of yet, hasn’t been released in English HOWEVER… I do have a few pertinent quotes from the book for yawl:
    Bergoglio on LGBT marriage equality circa 2010:
    There have always been homosexuals. The island of Lesbos is known as a place where homosexual women lived. But never in history has anyone sought to give it the same status as marriage. Whether it was tolerated or not, whether it was admired or not, no one regarded it as equivalent. We know that in moments of great change, the phenomenon of homosexuality increased. But this is the first time that anyone posed the legal possibility of equating it with marriage. I regard it as a retrograde step, anthropologically speaking. I am saying this because it transcends the religious question; it is an anthropological one. If a union is private, no third parties or society are affected. But now that it has been given the status of marriage and given facilities for adoption, children will be affected. Everyone needs a masculine father and a feminine mother to help them shape their identity. <><><><>
    He’s wrong. In American Indian society there were “gay marriages” however.. because there was no stigma attached it’s not called a “gay marriage.” It was JUST a marriage period. IT happened to be between two people of the same sex – so what? No one cared.
    Jorge just tosses gay marriage among the First Nations right out the window.. A whole continent of people just don’t even deserve a mention. Figures. I’m guessing that the reason they don’t get a mention because their relationships and the accepting societies they came from just doesn’t mesh with HIS ideology so it’s conveniently forgotten.
    Then there is a history of same-sex unions in cultures around the world. Various types of same-sex unions have existed, ranging from informal, unsanctioned, and temporary relationships to highly ritualized unions that have included marriage.
    A same-sex union was known in Ancient Greece and Rome, Ancient Mesopotamia, in some regions of China, such as Fujian province, and at certain times in ancient European history. Same-sex marital practices and rituals were more recognized in Mesopotamia than in ancient Egypt. The Almanac of Incantations contained prayers favoring on an equal basis the love of a man for a woman and of a man for man. An example of egalitarian male domestic partnership from the early Zhou Dynasty period of China is recorded in the story of Pan Zhang & Wang Zhongxian. While the relationship was clearly approved by the wider community, and was compared to heterosexual marriage, it did not involve a religious ceremony binding the couple.
    In the southern Chinese province of Fujian, through the Ming dynasty period, females would bind themselves in contracts to younger females in elaborate ceremonies. Males also entered similar arrangements. This type of arrangement was also similar in ancient European history.
    Among the Romans, there were instances of same-sex marriages being performed, as evidenced by emperors Nero who married another man TWICE…There were other incidents of gay unions/marriages but the Roman (and Eastern) Churches get it outlawed by the Christian emperors Constantius II and Constans in 342 A.D.
    In the United States during the 19th century, there was recognition of the relationship of two women making a long-term commitment to each other and cohabitating, referred to at the time as a Boston marriage.
    Other indigenous peoples in different areas of the world have same sex marriages or unions BUT in the end .. Jorge calls gay marriage “retrograde” (i.e. backwards and degenerate).
    During the fight for marriage equality (2010) in Argentina Pope Francis said:
    “Let’s not be naive: This is not a simple political fight; it is a destructive proposal to God’s plan. This is not a mere legislative proposal (that’s just its form), but a move by the father of lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God … Let’s look to St. Joseph, Mary, and the Child to ask fervently that they defend the Argentine family in this moment… May they support, defend, and accompany us in this war of God.”
    This “war of God??” OUCH!
    What about this one: ” In 2015, Pope Francis declared that “the family is threatened by growing efforts on the part of some to redefine the very institution of marriage” and suggested that same-sex marriage “disfigures God’s plan for creation”. The Pontiff supported the Slovak referendum on banning gay marriage and gay adoption in an address to St. Peter’s Square, stating: “I wish to express my appreciation to the entire Slovak church, encouraging everyone to continue their efforts in defense of the family, the vital cell of society.”
    In summary:
    Considering the fact that the Pope has a long history of WARRING on gay people it seems obvious that he’s given this a lot of thought AND it’s not something he has an open mind on!
    For him only a butch dude and a femmy woman can make good parents and that’s an end to it.
    When I read all that he had to say – he is FRIGHTENING. We are talking LEAvE IT TO BEAVER kind of thinking. Mrs Cleaver stays home, cooks, cleans while Mr. Cleaver goes out and makes “a living.” The children don’t help mom out much because .. they’re BOYS and boys don’t do girly stuff like help mom clean up.
    Yet THIS is the man we’ve been hoping might clear up the rampant misogyny and homophobia that has taken over the Church?
    WOW! What a mistake we have made trusting this kind of man with our future in the Catholic church. I mean, he didn’t even bother to find out the background on Kim Davis or he would know that despite not losing any money or pay over what happened .. and having no legal fee’s as her lawyers worked for free … The woman put up a private “Gofundme” page and is being given free money hand over fist! I would NOT be surprised to find out she’s opening some kind of private ministry so she doesn’t have to pay taxes on it. I found that out in one search on her name ..but the Pope and his minions missed that little part of chicanery? Also, Davis HAS a history of unethical money dealings … but they missed this? That she ran for an office knowing that gay marriage had a very good chance of being made law .. then took office knowing the same .. and the minute the issue came up .. she was asking for money from people online?
    BUT WE, the LGBT community are the immoral and evil ones?

  25. Jerry Baumeister, PhD
    Jerry Baumeister, PhD says:

    I am saddened and ashamed by Pope Francis’ actions. I have defended him in the past because I thought he brought a message of hope. I was wrong. He is nothing more than a talking head who will continue the long history of the church’s oppression and disregard for us. His concern for children and the poor makes for good copy but the substance is as phony as a three dollar bill. Shame on you Francis, shame on you!

  26. Thomas F. Luce
    Thomas F. Luce says:

    Brother Bergoglio is an astute politician, caring pastor, social justice champion and an orthodox theologian. So we acclaim his call for equality especially for the poor, climate control, ending death penalty etc. But on LGBTQI that he stays true to his convictions is a problem/conundrum?

    Yes he has modeled pastoral excellence with his “who am I to judge?” But he also is exercising political acumen in not doing a Trumper by calling out the LGBTQI folks at the White House reception–though not agreeing to meet any representative group. Of course he would champion the exercise of conscientious objection especially when the objector also holds true to his theological conviction about LGBTQI matters.

    Give the brother his due. He knew who Davis was and for what she stands. It’s a huge issue in the US for crying out loud. The brother’s biased defense of doing CO shouldn’t be used to cloud the right to CO. I remember when CO was (and still is with many church leaders) trumped by divine authority. Do you remember John Courtney Murray? We must stick with CO as well as fighting the good, non-violent fight against injustice couched in “religious liberty” claims. The fact that we’ve won considerable progress here in the US can’t be an excuse to let our defense/offense down. And more importantly we should be going after religious authorities like Brother Bergoglio to call out the egregious violence to LGBTQI folks in 76+ countries in the world.

    Of course as I wrote to you all on the 50th anniversary of my ordination in Rome (1963), I called for a thorough Catholic church reform abandoning patriarchy, infallibility, special connection with God that would install democracy, compassionate negotiations around doctrinal/theological differences, inclusiveness, preferential option for the poor. This reform would promote all the conscientious behaviors we know we should use instead of putting dreamy hopes on the most recently arrived monarch trying to do “his” thing that might be in line with our (LGBTQI) convictions.

    Thorough reform, not just supporting the status quo. Would these reforms leave us less integrity? I hope not. With no assurance that we have God’s approval because some church official says so, or because we are allegedly in personal touch with Jesus through communion, would we be unable to fight for justice–objecting conscientiously, non-violently when forced?

  27. Caring stranger
    Caring stranger says:

    Come on guys why would you criticize him? I understand it’s a huge honor to meet him an there’s a knot knowing he hugged this crazy beast. But according to the religion he’s leading, loving and learning all is a pretty essential cornerstone. We are no one to step in the way of that.

  28. Jose Luis Sanchez
    Jose Luis Sanchez says:

    News of Pope Francis’ meeting with Kim Davis felt like a wake-up slap on my face. For 2.5 years since his often quoted “who am I to judge” statement, I’ve counted many warning signs that led me to think that his openness to LGBT people was just a warm conciliatory pastoral tone that would not translate into significant policy changes. Still, I was not ready for the underhanded and highly symbolic endorsement of resistance to U.S. Supreme Court-mandated, civil same-sex marriage equality that the Pope’s secret meeting with Kim Davis represented.
    After 2.5 years of Pope-watching, of nursing hope while speculating on his innuendos and ambiguous statements, it is high time to sober up and drop expectations of sexual justice from Pope Francis. Numbness has by now replaced the sting, and thirst for reflection is replacing my initial disappointment.
    I find it highly ironic that the Pope takes the protection of the family as his mantra, when it is LGBT people who are struggling to have the sanctity of our Rainbow Families recognized by the Roman Catholic Church, while the Pope himself, his cardinals, bishops and priests have committed to non-family centered lives. If these men are so committed to the family, why don’t they adopt and raise abandoned children themselves? (Ooops, wait a second, that could be dangerous for the children)! While the Roman Catholic clergy have been abusing children and its cardinals and popes have until 2013 been protecting pedophiles from prosecution, Rainbow Families have been adopting children and giving them safe and loving homes. It seems to me that Rainbow Families command a much greater moral authority on the subject of families than the Roman Catholic hierarchy, even if Pope Francis has finally acknowledged the scandal.
    It is also ironic that the Pope who refuses to recognize remarried Catholics, meets with, commends, hugs, and requests prayers from a non-Catholic in her fourth marriage! (I can almost hear comedians recommending remarried Catholics to abandon the Roman Catholic Church and match Kim Davis’ number of marriages to gain the Pope’s attention and approval)!
    As the celebrity aura that surrounds the papacy and its current charming occupant fades, I find Pope Francis’ contradictory statements and actions lacking foundation and logic, and his claims for moral authority on sexual justice sorely wanting. Pope Francis is indeed a savvy politician who knows how to balance the political left and the political right in his effort to bid for Congressional applause and to cover the schisms within the Roman Catholic Church. But covers don’t resolve conflicts, they merely hide them. His image of the RC Church as a “field hospital” is quite revealing of his short-term attempt to pacify the cries for acceptance and inclusion, rather than to solve the conflict. After his embrace of Kim Davis, the inclusion of an openly gay comedian in his NYC event shines as the hollow window-dressing attempt that it was. We don’t need a year of mercy. We need full acceptance and inclusion as we are.
    The Vatican is unwilling to break from the sex-phobic 1st century mindset that still dominates its attitudes and its doctrines. Its concept of spirituality and the sacred is still one that is divorced from our bodies. Our 21st century embrace of a sexually integrated spirituality is radically antagonistic to that 1st century mindset in which sexual activity is acceptable only for procreation under sacramental marriage.
    Can we expect celibate men who’ve renounced the divine gift of sexuality (at least officially) to be empathetic to pleas from straight and LGBT Catholics who aim or hope to live whole lives that integrate sexuality and spirituality? Until the Vatican joins the 21st century, I’ll be happy to identify myself (in the words of theologian Matthew Fox) as a Post-Vatican Catholic. – José Luis Sánchez


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, a gay Catholic organization agreed, saying in a statement that the meeting “throws a wet blanket on the good will that the pontiff had garnered […]

  2. […] 10. Pope Francis’ Meeting With Kim Davis Raises a Red Flag […]

  3. […] suggestions. The first comes from Francis DeBernardo, the Executive Director of New Ways Ministry. It is about time, DeBernardo writes, for Pope Francis to meet with LGBT Catholics and their families… He was called upon to do so during his visit to the United States and did not take up the […]

  4. […] repeating a point already made on this blog by Francis DeBernardo, the Vatican must be more transparent and forthright in explaining Pope […]

  5. […] suggestions. The first comes from Francis DeBernardo, the Executive Director of New Ways Ministry. It is about time, DeBernardo writes, for Pope Francis to meet with LGBT Catholics and their families… He was called upon to do so during his visit to the United States and did not take up the […]

  6. […] dialogues with LGBT Catholics to discuss church teaching, policy, and pastoral practice.  As I stated two days ago, the time for vagueness, ambiguity, and secret meetings is […]

  7. […] have also remarked that he sometimes talks out of both sides of his mouth,” DeBernardo wrote on his blog. “While he is LGBT-positive in general ways, his remarks on specific moral and political […]

  8. […] and lesbian Catholics called the Pope’s meeting with Davis “puzzling” and said it “throws a wet blanket” on his trip to the United States last […]

  9. […] and lesbian Catholics called the Pope’s meeting with Davis “puzzling” and said it “throws a wet blanket” on his trip to the United States last […]

  10. […] suggestions. The first comes from Francis DeBernardo, the Executive Director of New Ways Ministry. It is about time, DeBernardo writes, for Pope Francis to meet with LGBT Catholics and their families… He was called upon to do so during his visit to the United States and did not take up the […]

  11. […] The first comes from Francis DeBernardo, the Executive Director of brand-new Ways Ministry. It is about time, DeBernardo writes, for Pope Francis to meet along with LGBT Catholics and their fa… He was called upon to do so during his visit to the United States and did not take up the […]

  12. […] suggestions. The first comes from Francis DeBernardo, the Executive Director of New Ways Ministry. It is about time, DeBernardo writes, for Pope Francis to meet with LGBT Catholics and their families… He was called upon to do so during his visit to the United States and did not take up the […]

  13. […] suggestions. The first comes from Francis DeBernardo, the Executive Director of New Ways Ministry. It is about time, DeBernardo writes, for Pope Francis to meet with LGBT Catholics and their families… He was called upon to do so during his visit to the United States and did not take up the […]

  14. […] suggestions. The first comes from Francis DeBernardo, the Executive Director of New Ways Ministry. It is about time, DeBernardo writes, for Pope Francis to meet with LGBT Catholics and their families… He was called upon to do so during his visit to the United States and did not take up the […]

  15. […] have also remarked that he sometimes talks out of both sides of his mouth,” DeBernardo wrote on his blog. “While he is LGBT-positive in general ways, his remarks on specific moral and political […]

  16. […] speaking from both sides of the mouth,”write on his blog. DeBernardo. “His statements on moral issues and specific policies are often at odds with his […]

  17. […] DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, a gay Catholic organization agreed, saying in a statement that the meeting “throws a wet blanket on the good will that the pontiff had garnered […]

  18. […] Ways Ministry issued a response to this news yesterday, and you can read it by clicking here.  Today, we offer some commentary from others on the […]

  19. […] DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, a gay Catholic organization agreed, saying in a statement that the meeting “throws a wet blanket on the good will that the pontiff had garnered […]

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