More Popery than you care to know

In all honesty, I don’t really care who the Pope meets with or why. But the thing is, my mom reads this blog, and she’s really irritated that Francis met with Kim Davis for whatever reason, and so I’m doing this so that she’ll hopefully read it and calm down a little. But also, while the doings of the Catholic Church aren’t really of great concern to me, this story is full of some pretty juicy Vatican intrigue that I do find pretty interesting.

Anyway, the upshot is that Pope Francis was probably conned into meeting with Davis and had no idea who she was or why he was meeting with her. Chicago’s CBS affiliate broke this story yesterday:

As Pope Francis was addressing a joint session of Congress, and thousands more gathered outside on the west lawn, Kim Davis — who’d become the poster child for opponents of same-sex marriage — was getting ready for a meeting with the pontiff at the Vatican embassy.

It is a meeting some charge was orchestrated by the man who lived there, the Pope’s representative here, Carlo Maria Vigano.

Not even Lombardi knew about it ahead of time, nor did the leadership of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which would have opposed it.

Others claim the Pope knew about the meeting, and had ordered Vatican diplomats — perhaps even Vigano — to set it up.

CBS 2’s Vatican source doesn’t think so. A close advisor to Pope Francis tweeted that the Pope was, in his words, “exploited” by those who set up what the CBS 2 source says was a “meeting that never should have taken place.”

Now obviously a story based on an anonymous Vatican source isn’t enough to establish Francis’s obliviousness to a certainty, but the Vatican does seem to be going out of its way to say that, hey, just because he met with this lady, it doesn’t mean anything. And why would the Vatican want to do that? Francis’s opposition to marriage equality is well-established and in line with mainstream Catholicism. Does the Pope need to maintain good standing with American liberals in order to advance his agenda? That seems doubtful. So maybe, just maybe, they’re telling the truth, and the Pope met with this wacko without knowing her story.

The intrigue part comes courtesy of Esquire’s Charles Pierce, who did some speculating yesterday about how this Vigano character (see above, in bold) may have arranged to put Davis and the Pope in a room together in order to create a story that would undermine the rest of Francis’s US visit. Why? Because Vigano is partial to Pope Classic and really doesn’t care for the flavor of New Pope:

Ratzinger’s fingerprints are all over this story. Vigano is a Benedict loyalist. Robert Moynihan, whose newsletter, Inside The Vatican, got the story first, is an actual lifelong Ratzinger protégé. And the Vatican press office acted just the way I’d want it to act, if I were the guy setting this up. First, it issues a silly non-denial denial, and then it merely confirms that the meeting occurred. At which point, the office clams up, leaving the story festering out there in the news cycle, and leaving the pope out there in the American culture war to twist in the wind. And, if this scenario is in any way accurate, it had its desired effect. The impact of what the pope actually said and did in America has been fairly well ratfcked.

Pierce’s story is fascinating, and full of links to other stories about what is a frankly shocking amount of open dissent among Vatican conservatives over this Pope’s, ah, slightly less conservative message. This is stuff that I didn’t know about because, again, I don’t really pay much attention to what goes on at the Vatican. But it’s pretty interesting.

BENEDICT: [to himself] I wonder if he knows I’m trying to destroy his papacy from within…

FRANCIS: [to himself] How long do I have to stay here to be polite? 10 minutes? 15?

*sigh*

I never should have let this guy move in next door.

As far as the meeting with Kim Davis is concerned, everybody’s going to make up their own minds on that, particularly since the conspiratorial case for Francis having been conned into the meeting lacks any hard evidence to back it up. But if it helps you, and by “you” I mean you, mom, before his people shuffled Davis in to meet with him, Francis also had an audience with a gay couple (one of whom is Francis’s former student from back in Argentina) that Francis reportedly “arranged personally” before he came to the US. So that’s nice.

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