Washington, DC – The facts about the meeting with Kim Davis have been told, but we will again set forth the details of the meeting with an additional fact.
The meeting with Kim Davis was initiated on September 14. While we do not know everyone who was part of the invitation, we do know that The Apostolic Nuncio of the Holy See to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, personally spoke with Kim Davis about the invitation. The invitation was for a private meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican Embassy in Washington, D.C., on Thursday afternoon, September 24. This meeting was a private meeting. No other members of the public were present.
Kim Davis and her attorney, Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel, originally planned to be in Washington, D.C., on Thursday afternoon. But when the unsolicited invitation was extended to Kim and her attorneys, they changed their arrival time to Wednesday evening. On the evening of September 23, Kim Davis received another call about the meeting the next day. She was instructed to wear her hair up because she was so recognizable. Around 8:00 a.m. on September 24, Kim received another call confirming the time of the pickup at 1:15 p.m.
At 1:15 p.m. Staver accompanied Kim and Joe Davis to meet two male security personnel dressed in suits and wearing earphones. Staver confirmed they were seeking Kim Davis. They spoke in heavy Italian accents. Staver accompanied Kim and Joe Davis to a waiting van and remained at the hotel and in regular contact with Kim.
Kim and Joe Davis were placed in a room with no one else present. Later Pope Francis arrived with only Vatican or Embassy personnel and security. He stretched out his hands. Kim clasped his hands, and he asked her to pray for him. She said she would, and she asked the Pontiff to pray for her, to which he said he would. Pope Francis then thanked Kim for her “courage.” They embraced. The Pope said, “Stay strong.” He then presented Kim and Joe with two Rosaries.
There was no line of people or other members of the public seen anywhere. With Kim being so recognizable, it would have been impossible to keep the visit secret if other members of the public were anywhere near the Pontiff and or Kim Davis.
The Pope’s encouragement to Kim and admonition to “Stay strong” underscore the fact that he and other Vatican officials knew about her stand for religious freedom. The Pontiff’s answer to a reporter’s question on the Papal plane about whether a government official should have a right to conscientious objection regarding the issuance of marriage liceneses is consistent with this knowledge. He said he does not know about the specifics of any or all cases, but he affirmed such a right. No one would expect the Pontiff to know about the “particulars or complex issues” of Kim’s case, and no one has claimed he did. But he said a government official has a human right to conscientious objection, even in the context of issuing marriage licenses, because this is a universal human right.
While there may be people who favor the meeting and some who oppose it, the fact is the private meeting request was unsolicited and facilitated by Vatican officials. Unlike others who may have met the Pontiff, Kim and Joe Davis were picked up by Vatican personnel and security, and they met privately with Pope Francis.
The meeting with Kim Davis was kept secret until the following Tuesday night around 8:15 p.m., at which time Liberty Counsel received the green light to release it. Neither the Vatican nor Kim Davis wanted her to become a focus of the Papal visit while the Pope remained in the United States. His broad messages about marriage and religious freedom, his answer to a specific question about the right of conscientious objection for government officials in the issuance of marriage licences, and his encouragement of Kim Davis and admonition to “stay strong” are all consistent.
“Everyone who reads or watches any media knows about Kim Davis. From travelers to police officers in major international airports, Kim Davis was recognizable and people gave her a thumbs up sign or shouted ‘thank-you for your courage.’ When Pope Francis met privately with Kim Davis, he thanked her for her courage and said ‘Stay strong.’ The private meeting with Kim Davis and Pope Francis occurred, and she will always cherish the opportunity,” concluded Staver.
According to Vatican.com, a “Papal nuncio is a papal ambassador, i.e., a permanent diplomatic representative of the Holy See to a state or an international organization. According to the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, a papal nuncio is an ambassador equal to an ambassador from any other country….The papal nuncio serves as the liaison between the Holy See and the Roman Catholic diocesan episcopate in the nation, region or organization in which he is placed…. Basically the papal nuncio is a permanent representative of the pope who is assigned with the task of safeguarding the interests of the Holy See. The mission of the papal nuncio includes both diplomatic and ecclesiastical powers. The office of the papal nuncio is specifically defined within certain territories in which he officiates. His primary mission is to protect all the interests of the Holy See. The Papal Nuncio's appointment is permanent. The office of the papal nuncio was initiated during the 16th century.” http://vatican.com/articles/info/what_is_a_papal_nuncio-a64
Liberty Counsel is an international nonprofit, litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989, by providing pro bono assistance and representation on these and related topics.