>> Pope met with gay couple during visit to Washington
Si le pape François n’a pas rencontré Kim Davis en audience privée, il a reçu un couple homosexuel à Washington, a indiqué vendredi le Vatican, confirmant une information de la chaîne américaine CNN.
Une vidéo de cette rencontre, diffusée notamment sur le site du New York Times, montre le Saint Père accueillant un ami argentin de longue date, Yayo Grassi, et son compagnon, Iwan, qui vivent en couple depuis 19 ans. Cette entrevue « personnelle » a eu lieu à l’ambassade du Vatican à Washington le 23 septembre, selon le Vatican.
« Yayo Grassi, ancien étudiant argentin du pape François, qui a déjà rencontré plusieurs fois le pape, a demandé à lui présenter sa mère et plusieurs amis pendant la visite du pape à Washington », a précisé le porte-parole du Vatican Federico Lombardi dans un communiqué. « Le pape, en tant que pasteur, a gardé plusieurs liens personnels avec des gens dans un esprit de bonté, d’accueil et de dialogue », a-t-il ajouté.
Cette information filtre après plusieurs jours de polémique sur la rencontre entre le souverain pontife et la greffière Kim Davis, qui refuse dans son comté du Kentucky (centre-est des Etats-Unis) de signer des actes de mariage pour des couples de même sexe.
Sans démentir l’entrevue avec Mme Davis, le Vatican s’était d’abord refusé à tout commentaire avant de publier vendredi matin un rare communiqué face à la tempête médiatique que cela a suscité aux Etats-Unis.
Le Vatican avait fait savoir dans ce communiqué que la rencontre avec Mme Davis, qui n’est pas catholique mais membre des Apostolic Christians, ne devait « pas être considérée comme une forme de soutien à sa position ».
>> The day before Pope Francis met anti-gay county clerk Kim Davis in Washington last week, he held a private meeting with a longtime friend from Argentina who has been in a same-sex relationship for 19 years.
Yayo Grassi, an openly gay man, brought his partner, Iwan Bagus, as well several other friends to the Vatican Embassy on September 23 for a brief visit with the Pope. A video of the meeting shows Grassi and Francis greeting each other with a warm hug.
In an exclusive interview with CNN, Grassi declined to disclose details about the short visit, but said it was arranged personally with the Pope via email in the weeks ahead of Francis’ highly anticipated visit to the United States.
“Three weeks before the trip, he called me on the phone and said he would love to give me a hug,” Grassi said.
The meeting between the Pope and gay couple adds another intriguing twist to the strange aftermath of Francis’ first-ever trip to the United States. Since news broke on Tuesday of Francis’ meeting with Davis, conservatives have cheered the seemingly implicit endorsement, while liberals have questioned how much the Pope knew about her case.
The two meetings — one with a gay couple and one with a government official who ardently opposes homosexuality — has left the Vatican issuing a series of short explanatory statements, seeking to de-politicize the Pope’s meetings and agenda.
On Friday afternoon, Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said that Grassi had asked to present his mother and several friends to Francis in Washington.
“As noted in the past, the Pope, as pastor, has maintained many personal relationships with people in a spirit of kindness, welcome and dialogue,” Lombardi said.
Earlier on Friday, the Vatican said that the meeting with Davis was not intended as a show of support for her cause and “the only real audience granted by the Pope at the nunciature (embassy) was with one of his former students and his family.”
Grassi said the Pope has long known that he is gay, but has never condemned his sexuality or his same-sex relationship.”He has never been judgmental,” Grassi said. “He has never said anything negative.”
While not changing church teaching, which considers same-sex relationships sinful, Pope Francis has often emphasized mercy over judgment. In 2013, for example, he famously said, “Who am I to judge” gay priests who seek to do God’s will. He also reportedly met with a transgender man from Spain in January of this year.Grassi said he believes the Pope was “misled” into meeting with Davis, who served six days in a Kentucky jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Davis’ lawyers had portrayed the papal meeting as an endorsement of her cause. After several days of questions and culture-war sparring, the Vatican said that was not the case.
“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,” Lombardi said in a statement issued Friday morning.
The question of who, exactly, set up the meeting between Davis and the Pope has been the subject of fervid media speculation this week.
Vatican officials have said that such encounters could only have taken place with the planning and approval of the Holy See’s nuncio — or envoy — to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò.