LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Defiant Kentucky clerk Kim Davis met briefly with Pope Francis during his historic U.S. visit, an encounter she said validates her crusade against gay marriage.
“He held out his hand to her and she grasped his hand,” her attorney, Mat Staver, told The Associated Press. “He asked her to pray for him and she said she would; she asked the pope to pray for her, and he said he would.”
The Vatican essentially confirmed the meeting: The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, given the opportunity to deny it took place, declined to do so and said merely that he would have no comment.
Staver said a Vatican photographer was present and that he expected the pictures to become public. But the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, said the meeting was private and that no photos would be released.
Davis, an Apostolic Christian, became a protagonist in America’s divisive culture wars when she defied the federal courts by refusing to license same-sex marriages. She spent five days in jail until her deputies agreed to issue them without her.
Staver said Davis and her husband met with Francis alone for less than 15 minutes at the Vatican Embassy in Washington, D.C.
Staver would not say who initiated the meeting with the pope or how it came to be, though he did say that Vatican officials had inquired about Davis’ situation while she was in jail. He declined to name them.
Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, referred questions back to the Vatican.
“It was really very humbling to even think that he would want to meet me or know me,” Davis told ABC News. “Just knowing that the pope is on track with what we’re doing and agreeing, you know, it kind of validates everything.”
Davis was in Washington for the Values Voter Summit, where the Family Research Council, which opposes same-sex marriage, presented her with an award, and where Davis said she was switching to the Republican party because she feels abandoned by Democrats.