Saturday, October 3, 2015

Did the Pope bless Kim Davis’ beliefs? About as much as Mark McGwire bat!

Talk about some serious media mismanagement; how else to explain the fact that the Vatican is feeling compelled to come up with clarification after clarification about the “meeting” the Pope supposedly had with that county clerk from Kentucky who wants to be the heroine of the homophobic community.

Did it really happen?
For it seems that back when Pope Francis was in the United States last week, Kim Davis was one of a dozen people who were taken to the Vatican’s embassy in Washington.

SHE GOT A brief bit of face time, where Davis insists she was told by His Holiness himself that he told her to “stay strong” in her ongoing fight against people who expect her to fulfill her legal duties as clerk of Rowan County, Ky., by signing off on all marriage licenses.

Even those issued by gay couples wishing to have legal legitimacy added to their personal relationships.

Most of what has been spoken about this “meeting” has come from Davis. The woman who isn’t even Catholic (she’s part of an Apostolic faith) wants us to think she has the backing of one of the world’s leading religious faiths.

The Vatican, which likes to think it is above all these worldly considerations, initially came up with a “we can neither confirm nor deny” strategy in response to Davis and her followers’ antics.

IT LATER BECAME a “we confirm they met, but will not elaborate” type of response.
No longer the highlight of the papal visit
But even that was not enough to put to rest this issue. By Friday, a Vatican spokesman had to issue yet another clarification – providing scant details about an issue upon which the church usually thinks are no one else’s concern.

“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,” we were told. Then, we learned how the pope also greeted a gay couple and their friends during his tour -- the same amount of attention that Davis got.

Not that I expect this to put the issue to rest – there are those who are going to keep this issue alive for as long as possible. It may well be that it was people within the Catholic church hierarchy who arranged for Davis to even be on hand to see the Pope in Washington – perhaps those who want to push the church toward the ideologue side with regards to the gay marriage debate.

JUST BECAUSE THE courts may have ruled a certain way doesn’t mean there won’t be those wishing to overturn them. Abortion was decided by the courts to be a legitimate medical procedure more than four decades ago – yet the issue isn’t anywhere near going away.

A comparable moment to Kim Davis?
Now I’m not about to claim Davis is flat-out lying when she talks about her papal moment. Only that I realize being allowed into the pope’s presence shouldn’t be thought of as being a bigger deal than it really is.

I still remember in 1999 when Pope John Paul II came to St. Louis. One of the people he met with was then-St. Louis Cardinals slugger Mark McGwire. They shook hands, and McGwire got to introduce his son, Matt, to the pope.

The whole incident lasted a few seconds before the pope moved on. Aside from creating the opportunity for some jokes about the pope meeting with a cardinal, it was just a brief tidbit.

YET IN A papal journey to the Americas that ventured into Havana and saw Pope Francis speak both at Madison Square Garden AND before Congress, there’s a very good chance that this trip will have as its lingering memory the few seconds that Davis worked her way to the front of the line and had papal face time. Then again, the pope’s visit also got upstaged by the death of one-time New York Yankees great Yogi Berra, so maybe the pope was going to struggle for top-billing.

His death put Pope on Pg. 14 of NY Post
By that definition of papal attention, perhaps I should consider my own ’99 moment – I was a United Press International reporter back then and I was in St. Louis for the John Paul II trip. At one point, I was watching a motorcade through the city and the pope was about 50 feet away from me when he looked in my direction and waved.

For his later mass at the now-former TWA Dome, I was relegated to another room and had to watch him speak via a video screen connection. Admittedly, Davis’ proximity to a Pope was better than I had.

But somehow, I think her experience was closer to mine than to a true papal audience – which is the impression some conservative ideologues seem to want to create. Which strikes me as a repulsive use of religion for one’s own beliefs!


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