Father Thomas Rosica, C.S.B., and Federico Lombardi, S.J., former director of the Holy See Press Office, issued a statement on Sept. 2 that challenges Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò’s version of his meeting with Pope Francis in October 2015 to discuss his controversial encounter with Kim Davis. The statement contradicts Archbishop Viganò’s account of his meeting with the pope, in which he said Francis had never reproached him for organizing the meeting with Ms. Davis.
Father Rosica, C.E.O. of Salt and Light Media Foundation, has acted as Father Lombardi’s aide for English-language media.
Archbishop Viganò arranged the pope’s controversial meeting with Ms. Davis on Sept. 24, 2015, in Washington, D.C. The encounter created a media frenzy in the United States that threatened to overshadow the pope’s historic visit in September. Ms. Davis, a county clerk in Kentucky, had been briefly jailed for refusing to sign the marriage licenses of homosexual couples seeking to register their marriages in the midst of a national debate in the United States about same-sex marriages.
The statement contradicts Archbishop Viganò’s account of his meeting with the pope, in which he said Francis had never reproached him for organizing the meeting with Ms. Davis.
The pope’s meeting with Ms. Davis raised many questions in U.S. media about the pope’s intentions and was viewed by social conservatives in the United States as a papal stamp of approval for Ms. Davis. The Vatican furiously sought to downplay the encounter, with Father Lombardi saying the meeting by no means indicated papal support for Davis and insisting that the only private audience Francis held in Washington was with his former student: a gay man and his partner.
According to Archbishop Viganò’s account, Pope Francis was so upset by what had happened that he asked Cardinal Parolin to summon the nuncio to Rome.
Archbishop Viganò wrote in a recent statement released to lifesitenews.com that in his hour-long meeting with Pope Francis on Oct. 9 “to my great surprise...the pope did not mention even once the audience with Davis!”
He added that immediately after his meeting with the pope, he phoned Cardinal Parolin and told him, “The pope was so good with me. Not a word of reproach, only praise for the success of his visit to the USA.”
At which point, according to Archbishop Viganò’s account, Cardinal Parolin replied, “‘It’s not possible because with me he was furious about you.’”
Father Rosica said the archbishop told them that he never intended to harm the pope with his idea to have Ms. Davis at the nunciature.
Father Lombardi and Father Rosica say Archbishop Viganò failed to mention in his account that he had invited them to meet with him in his Vatican apartment on the evening after his audience with Francis. At that time he seemed “shaken” and offered a very different version of what the pope said.
Father Rosica, who kept notes of the meeting, said the archbishop told them that he never intended to harm the pope with his idea to have Ms. Davis at the nunciature. When Father Rosica asked Archbishop Viganò if the visit had been arranged and approved by the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Conference at that time, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., and the cardinal archbishop of Washington, Donald Wuerl, “He did not answer.” The question was relevant as it was widely rumored that the U.S. bishops had not approved the pope’s meeting with Ms. Davis.
Father Rosica quoted verbatim the former-nuncio as telling them (speaking in Italian): “The Holy Father in his paternal benevolence thanked me for his visit to the USA but also said that I had deceived him [in] bringing that woman to the nunciature.”
Archbishop Viganò added, “The pope told me: ‘You never told me that she had four husbands.’”
Father Lombardi confirmed Father Rosica’s record of the meeting as “reliable.”
Father Lombardi: “As nuncio, he should have known better about this situation.”
He recalled that Archbishop Viganò had spoken the night before the Davis meeting with Pope Francis and his collaborators and obtained their consensus. But to Father Lombardi’s mind this “did not detract from the responsibility of the initiative of the meeting with Kim Davis and the consequences were mainly of Viganò himself, who had evidently desired and prepared them.”
Father Lombardi commented, “As nuncio, he should have known better about this situation.”
Father Lombardi stated that the meeting between Pope Francis and Ms. Davis “was organized by the nuncio who inserted it in the context of the pope's many and quick greetings at his departure from the nunciature.”
He added, “This certainly did not allow the pope and his collaborators to realize the significance of this meeting.” The former Vatican spokesman said that it was for this reason that “I insisted on this context when I answered the questions that had been asked to me when the meeting had become public.”
Father Lombardi, who was then the Vatican press officer, observed that Archbishop Viganò “now affirms that he had made an agreement with Kim Davis that he did not speak of the meeting before the pope returned to Rome, but only afterwards.” He asked, “I wonder if this aspect—that the meeting would have been made public by Kim Davis after the trip, had been really discussed by Viganò with the pope's collaborators since this would have provoked many reactions”
He concludes, “It seems to me only that the meeting had been planned as being a private one with the pope for a person who was presented to him as worthy of appreciation, even if there was much discussion about her.”
Father Rosica reports that during the October 2015 meeting in Rome, Archbishop Viganò “expressed great concern that no media should know that he had been summoned to Rome to meet with the pope.”
“No one is to know when I am leaving on early Monday morning on a flight to the USA because I have an episcopal installation in a U.S. diocese.”
But, Father Rosica responded, “The media already knows your return flight.”
According to their statement, Fathers Lombardi and Rosica then showed him what the media had reported, and Father Rosica informed Archbishop Viganò that “a journalist has a tape recording of you or one of the monsignors at the nunciature who phoned Kim Davis at her hotel the evening before her meeting with the pope.”
Archbishop Viganò was shocked at this and even more so when Father Rosica played the recording of a person at the nunciature telling Ms. Davis: “A vehicle will pick you and your lawyer up at the hotel tomorrow morning and bring you to the nunciature. Change your hairstyle so people will not recognize you so quickly.”
According to Father Rosica, the archbishop told them “not to make any statements to the press without checking with the nunciature first,” and “when we left him, he seemed troubled and thanked us for our visit.”