While politically progressive Catholics and their cheerleaders in the secular press shouted praise for Pope Francis and the things he said about climate change, the death penalty and immigration, his actions more than his words show a Pope unafraid to engage highly controversial issues in the ongoing culture wars.
The Pope often builds in “secret” unscheduled visits during his trips abroad and the choice of these secret visits can be read as issues close to his heart. So his actions during his recent visit to the United States show a religious leader unafraid to touch even the hottest rails of American politics, the right of Americans to resist gay marriage if it violates their consciences.
The big surprise visit that was known at the time was his visit to the Little Sisters of the Poor, who are embroiled in a court battle with President Obama’s administration over their conscientious objection to the contraceptive mandate in Obamacare. The Pope’s visit showed solidarity with the Nuns and with all those resisting the intrusion of the federal government into the religious belief and practice.
But, it is his meeting with Kim Davis that will likely shake up the political landscape. Davis is nothing less than the devil to many on the sexual left.
She has steadfastly refused to grant marriage licenses in her name to gay men and women. She has gone to jail rather than submit to a court order. Her cause isn’t even universally supported among conservatives. Some believe she should carry out her duties or resign and that hers is the worst test case for religious liberty in a post-Obergefell world.
Yet, it is reported the Vatican requested the meeting with her rather than the other way around. The meeting was secret at the time, likely because the Vatican did not want the meeting to dominate the news coverage of the trip so far and during the remaining days in New York and Philadelphia.
Still, it appears the Vatican approved the release of the details of the meeting that are astounding to those who support Davis’s right to withhold her name from same-sex marriage licenses as an expression of her religious faith.
The Pope hugged her, blessed her, and praised her courage. He told her to stay strong. Later, on the plane across the Atlantic heading home to Rome, he told an ABC reporter that even government employees have a human right in their official duties to resist gay marriage if it goes against their conscience.
Professor Robert George of Princeton, who also sits on the International Religious Liberty Commission, tells Breitbart News:
The Catholic Church deeply believes in religious freedom and the rights of conscience. The Catholic Church deeply believes in marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife. So I’m not sure why people in the media are shocked that the leader of the Catholic Church, while on a pastoral visit to the U.S., would make a special point of meeting a woman who has come to symbolize the rights of conscience in defense of marriage. Is it that they don’t know what the Catholic Church stands for? Or do they not know that the Pope is a Catholic?
European political leader Luca Volonte says he is concerned with how the meeting is being portrayed in the European press today, as “strange” and “undiplomatic” toward President Obama. He told Breitbart News, “Conscientious objection is a foundamental human right and must be respected and promoted everywhere.”
Volonte described how numerous municipal officials around France refused to participate in gay weddings after it was imposed by the French Parliament. He says a reasonable accommodation was worked out for them in line with existing human rights treaties.
It should be noted that the Pope did not meet secretly or even openly with climate scientists.
Follow Austin Ruse on Twitter @austinruse