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Former Vatican Official Accuses Pope of 'Lying' About Kim Davis

Pope Francis

Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano said Pope Francis's team approved of the meeting with the antigay county clerk.

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A former Vatican official says Pope Francis knew who Kim Davis was when he met with her in 2015.

Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano penned a letter Friday in response to an account from Juan Carlos Cruz -- a Chilean survivor of sexual abuse -- in a New York Times article claiming otherwise.

In the interview, Cruz claimed Francis, in a recent audience with His Holiness, told him that Vigano had smuggled Davis into a private meeting at the Vatican Embassy in Washington, D.C., and that the pope did not know of her identity at the time.

When Francis discovered the controversy surrounding Davis -- a Kentucky clerk who had made headlines that year for refusing to give marriage licenses to same-sex couples -- "I was horrified and I fired that nuncio," said Francis, in Cruz's account.

Vigano had served as the nuncio -- the Vatican's ambassador to the United States -- from 2011 to 2016. He was replaced by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, following the media firestorm sparked by the meeting with Davis, which threatened to derail Francis's visit to the U.S.

In Vigano's letter, which was published in the conservative website LifeSite, the archbishop disputed Cruz's claims. "Faced with the pope's reported statement, I feel obliged to recount the events as they really unfolded," he wrote in a three-page statement.

"One of them is lying: either Cruz or the pope? What is certain is that the pope knew very well who Davis was, and he and his close collaborators had approved the private audience," he stated.

In September 2015, Davis and her attorneys at Liberty Counsel, an anti-LGBTQ legal group, announced that she and her husband met privately with Pope Francis, who told her to "stay strong."

The announcement dominated headlines. In response, Vatican officials said the session was not private -- the Davises were among several dozen people in a papal reception-- and that the pope did not discuss the details of her situation.

"His meeting with her should not be considered a form of support of her position in all of its particular and complex aspects," a Vatican spokesman said at the time. Davis is not Catholic but a member of the Apostolic Pentecostal Christian faith.

In a previous letter in August, Vigano called on Pope Francis to resign, saying the pope knew about allegations that Cardinal Theodore McCarrick sexually abused boys and young men but failed to take action. Francis has not yet responded to either accusation.

Vigano's letters arrive in the midst of renewed scrutiny of the Catholic Church, after a report detailed that leaders covered up nearly 1,000 instances of child abuse by clergymen in Pennsylvania. Vigano and other conservatives in the church blame gay men for a systemic culture of abuse. So their attacks on Francis -- who famously said, "Who am I to judge?" in response to a question about gay priests -- may be politically motivated.

"Vigano is just using the Western church, and American Catholicism, and the shock caused by the revelations against Cardinal McCarrick, to make his own personal case against the Vatican, which expelled him and didn't make him a cardinal," Massimo Faggioli, a professor of theology and religious studies at Villanova University, told Slate.

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Daniel Reynolds

Daniel Reynolds is the editor of social media for The Advocate. A native of New Jersey, he writes about entertainment, health, and politics.
Daniel Reynolds is the editor of social media for The Advocate. A native of New Jersey, he writes about entertainment, health, and politics.