Kim Davis denies Vatican account of her meeting with Pope, says she was invited

Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis speaks during an interview on Fox News Channel's 'The Kelly File' in New York on Sept. 23, 2015.Reuters

Disturbed by statements coming from the Vatican, gay marriage nemesis Kim Davis would like to set the records straight that it was the Vatican that extended an "unsolicited invitation" for her to hold a "private meeting" with Pope Francis at the Vatican embassy in Washington D.C. last Sept. 24.

Liberty Counsel, the group representing Davis, said the Kentucky county clerk—who spent six days in jail for defying a court order for her to issue marriage certificates to same-sex couples—had spoken with papal representative Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano before she met the Pope.

"This meeting was a private meeting. No other members of the public were present," Liberty Counsel said.

Davis, accompanied by her husband Joe and lawyer Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, arrived in Washington on the night of Sept. 23, the Liberty Counsel statement said.

The following day, the Davis couple were met by people with "heavy Italian accents" who led them to the Vatican embassy.

"Kim and Joe Davis were placed in a room with no one else present. Later Pope Francis arrived with only Vatican or Embassy personnel and security," the Liberty Counsel statement said.

"He stretched out his hands. Kim clasped his hands, and he asked her to pray for him. She said she would, and she asked the Pontiff to pray for her, to which he said he would.

"Pope Francis then thanked Kim for her courage. They embraced. The Pope said, 'Stay strong.' He then presented Kim and Joe with two rosaries. There was no line of people or other members of the public seen anywhere," the statement said.

Liberty Counsel said the Vatican requested Davis to keep the meeting a "secret" until the following Tuesday.

Unknown to Davis at that time, Pope Francis met with an openly gay caterer who was his former student in Buenos Aires a day before he met her, according to reports backed up by photos and video footages of the event. The caterer named Yayo Grassi came to the Vatican embassy and warmly greeted and hug his friend-Pope, accompanied by his partner Iwan Bagus—who also hugged the Pope—and their friends.

On Friday, the Vatican surprisingly announced that the "only real audience" Pope Francis had in Washington was with his former student [Grassi] and "his family."

Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said Davis was only one of "several dozen" people who had been invited by the Vatican ambassador to see the Pope while he was in Washington.

"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.

Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee reacted to the Vatican statement, saying he could not understand why the Vatican is evidently putting distance between the Pope and Davis.

Huckabee insisted that the meeting between Davis and Pope Francis was "very personal, very private."

"It wasn't one of a long line of people lined up," Huckabee told CNN.

"It was private. A car was sent to her. They took her to the Vatican embassy in Washington [and] the meeting was held."

Huckabee said "maybe there's just a feeling that the Vatican doesn't want to engage in controversy."

"But I think the Pope made it clear, that he does support religious liberty, he does support the notion that a person has a right to express their conscience. And he called it, by the way, not a religious right but a human right. Something bigger than just the laws of one country, one state, one city," Huckabee said.

The Pope's reported meeting with Davis saddened many liberal Catholics in the US but pleased conservative Christians who regarded it as a sign that the Pope was condemning same-sex marriage.