Kentucky

How Vatican split, accusations against Pope may trace back to a visit by Kentucky’s Kim Davis

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis with son Nathan Davis read a statement to the press outside the Rowan County Courthouse in Morehead on Sept. 14, 2015.  She announced that her office will issue marriage licenses under order of a federal judge, but the licenses will not have her name or office listed. Davis spent five days in jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis with son Nathan Davis read a statement to the press outside the Rowan County Courthouse in Morehead on Sept. 14, 2015. She announced that her office will issue marriage licenses under order of a federal judge, but the licenses will not have her name or office listed. Davis spent five days in jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Lexington Herald-Leader
A detailed account by the New York Times of a split in the Vatican that led to accusations against the Pope over his handling of sex abuse cases features an unlikely name: Kentucky County Clerk Kim Davis.


In the account by Jason Horowitz, Davis — and her controversial visit with the Pope during his U.S. stop in 2015 — played a key role in a rift between Pope Francis and Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano.


The archbishop’s recent letter, calling for the Pope to resign over his handling of sexual abuse cases involving priests, has sparked more controversy within the Catholic church already riddled with criticism.


Vigano gave Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, whose opposition to gay marriage rights put her in jail — face time with Francis when he visited Washington D.C. in 2015, the Times reported.

Vigano’s decision to invite Davis, who in 2015 denied marriage licenses to same-sex couples, was one that led to his firing. The pope told Juan Carlos Cruz, an abuse survivor, that Vigano nearly sabotaged his Washington visit, according to the Times report.

“I didn’t know who that woman was, and he snuck her in to say hello to me — and of course they made a whole publicity of it,” Cruz recalled Francis saying, according to the New York Times. “And I was horrified and I fired that nuncio,”

Attorneys for Davis said she and her husband met privately with the Pope, which the Vatican disputed. In a statement released in 2015, The Vatican emphasized that the Pope met with a former student and his family, and said Francis’ meeting with Davis “should not be considered a form of support of her position in all of its particular and complex aspects,” according to Politico.

Angry after the meeting with Davis, Francis removed Vigano from his position and kicked him out of his Vatican apartment, according to the Times.

Vigano aligned with church traditionalists who have spent years attempting to stop Francis and his support for inclusiveness, the Times reported. He began working on his letter this summer and it was published Sunday.

In the letter, Vigano has called upon Francis to resign from the papacy. Vigano stated he told Francis in 2013 about allegations of sexual abuse against ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington D.C.

“He must acknowledge his mistakes and, in keeping with the proclaimed principle of zero tolerance, Pope Francis must be the first to set a good example to Cardinals and Bishops who covered up McCarrick’s abuses and resign along with all of them,” he stated, according to CBS News.

Vigano stated McCarrick continued in his role as a public figure for the Catholic church even after Vigano told Francis about McCarrick’s abusive behavior shortly after he became pope, CBS News reported. McCarrick resigned in June following allegations that he sexually abused minors and adults over the course of decades. He has maintained his innocence.

His letter targeted others, but Vigano, too, has been accused. He allegedly protected Archbishop John Nienstedt against accusations of sexual misconduct in a Minnesota case, the Times and other media reported.

A Pennsylvania grand jury says its investigation of clergy sexual abuse identified more than 1,000 child victims. The grand jury report released August 14 says that number comes from records in six Roman Catholic dioceses.

Speaking to reporters Sunday in Dublin, Francis said he “will not say a single word” about Vigano’s claims, according to the Catholic News Agency.

Some say there is skepticism about Vigano’s letter because of his anti-gay sentiments, according to media reports.

Massimo Faggioli, a professor of theology and religious studies at Villanova University, told Slate “Vigano represents the part of the right wing of the church that sees the LGBT issue as the defining issue of this millennium of this century.”

“They think that anything can and should be done to stop Pope Francis from ushering in a more welcoming church for LGBT people,” Faggioli continued. “So in this there is a convergence between Vigano, who has always been obsessed with the gay lobby and gay conspiracy, and with the American Catholic right.”

See the moments in 2015 when David Ermold and David Moore, partners for nearly two decades, were denied a marriage license by Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis. Ermold hopes to unseat Davis in next year's election. Davis refused to issue marriage licen

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