We are big Pope Francis supporters over here in the Circus. No, we aren’t practicing Catholics (my husband was baptized Catholic but raised Episcopalian; with five children, I joke that his sperm clearly remain devout, despite his upbringing) but lately we wish we were. It’s hard not to adore a world leader who sneaks out of his palace to eat with the homeless, shies away from political games, and drives a Ford Focus.
We watched the coverage of his recent US visit with rapt attention. We smiled when he hugged the little girl, and cheered when he addressed climate change and poverty. We railed against detractors who lambasted the Pope’s message of caring for the most vulnerable by calling him a “socialist” and a “leftist”, as though those very things did not make up 90% of the New Testament that those same detractors claim as their marching orders. I even dug out my rosary collection (impressive for a Protestant, if I do say so myself) and started dusting off my “Hail Marys” and “Glory Be’s”.
We were all “Yay Pope! Go Pope go!”
And then Francis went to visit Kim Davis.
I’m sorry. What?
The Holy Father made time during his whirlwind visit to the United States to speak privately with some backwoods bigoted clerk whose biggest claim to fame is refusing to do her job, something, by the way, that millions of people get away with everyday without the support of Gofundme or the international press? What could this mean?
The Vatican has been very closed lipped about the whole meeting. Kim Davis has only said that the Pope encouraged her to “stay strong.” But surely, those two words did not consume the entirety of the ten-plus minute visit. So why did Pope Francis visit Kim Davis and what did he say??
I can’t be sure. But, based on my
obsessive extensive research into Francis, I’m willing to hazard a guess…
He Said, She Said
KD: Oh, oh! It’s so nice to meet you, Mr, um, Holy, um Pope.
PF: Thank you, my child. Please sit. Be comfortable.
KD: I just can’t believe you are here! Why me? Why me of all people?
PF: Because you needed me most. I wanted to meet in person with the woman who was willing to be jailed for her beliefs. I want to thank you for your courage.
KD: Well… thank you. It has been hard. But, I have to say, I’ve been blessed by the support and generosity of other believers. It feels so good to know that other God fearing people understand what I am doing here.
PF: What is it you are doing here?
KD: Um… well… you know. Upholding the Bible. Doing what Jesus told us to do… staying strong despite persecution. I want to be a biblical woman, I want to be a God honoring woman. I’m just doing my part to bring about the kingdom and save our country. It’s a small thing, but what else can one woman do?
PF: Well, you could feed the poor and heal the sick.
KD: Yeah, but, I’m a county clerk. That’s not my job. I give out licenses for marriage and cars. All I can do is stand in Godly opposition to this decree to issue marriage licenses to… gay people. It’s a little thing, I know, but it’s important. And I’m so glad, humbled really, that you, Holy, um, Pope, um, Father, are here to support me.
PF: I will always encourage people to stand strong in their faith. So, stay strong, my child. But do not miss the point.
You, all of you, are like the Pharisees, putting the trees before the forest, determined to adhere to the letter of the law while neglecting the spirit of the matter. Love your neighbor. Serve your neighbor. Lift up the downtrodden. Work tirelessly for justice for all. Stop being divisive; we are all of us, unworthy and beloved children of God. We can fight like infants for the title of righteousness, or we can work like men for Kingdom of God.
I see you are a woman of great faith. Those of us of faith are called to be the hands and feet of the Lord on earth. We are called to tend to the wounded, to visit those in prison, to lift up the least of these.
Maybe homosexuality is a sin. Who am I to judge? Maybe same-sex marriage is a sin, but it is legal contract… Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.
The church sometimes has locked itself up in small things, in small minded rules. The most important thing is the first proclamation: Jesus Christ has saved you. And the ministers of the church must be minsters of mercy above all. We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible….otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the gospel.
I think, with your passion, you could do great things if you could just use that passion to carry out the commandments of Jesus. The people you could serve-
KD: That’s what I’m doing.
KD: Yes, really. I’m standing up for my beliefs. I know that we’re called to feed the hungry and all that, but that problem is never going to go away. In the meantime, I’m doing what I have to do about this problem here. Look, the Bible teaches us that the poor will always be with us. There’s nothing we can do about it…
PF: Yes, but Kim… how many are with you?