Your Progressive Pope, Part Wev in an Endless Series

[Content Note: Homophobia.]

So, homophobic Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis says that she met the Pope in a secret meeting during his trip to the United States:
Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis says a private meeting with Pope Francis has inspired her — and given her a renewed sense of purpose.

"I was crying. I had tears coming out of my eyes," Davis said in an exclusive interview with ABC News.

"I'm just a nobody, so it was really humbling to think he would want to meet or know me."

Davis, who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, says the private meeting occurred during the pope's historic trip to the United States. After receiving a surprise phone call from a church official, the Kentucky county clerk says she traveled to Washington, D.C., where she and her husband Joe met the pope Sept. 24 at the Vatican Embassy.

"I put my hand out and he reached and he grabbed it, and I hugged him and he hugged me," Davis said. "And he said, 'thank you for your courage.'"
There are, at this point, no photos of the meeting—which is causing lots of people to question the veracity of the story. And the Vatican isn't exactly helping, as a statement from from the Vatican Press office reads: "The Holy See is aware of the reports of Kim Davis meeting with the Holy Father. The Vatican does not confirm the meeting, nor does it deny the meeting. There will be no further information given."

Um, okay.

We do know that Pope Francis held a secret meeting while he was here with the Little Sisters of the Poor, the religious order of Catholic sisters who are suing the Obama administration over the contraception provision in the Affordable Care Act.

And we know that Pope Francis made comments in support of conscientious objection on his flight back to Rome.

And we know that Pope Francis is very aware of the optics of his papacy and the Church in the modern age. I have been saying for two years that the primary difference between Pope Francis and his predecessors is not that he's more liberal, but that he's more invested in PR.

So I wouldn't be shocked if it is indeed true that he met with a reviled figure of US liberals in order to congratulate her on her bravery, but did so in secret so as not to undermine the glowing coverage of how amazing he is. Saying/doing one thing publicly, only to quietly reverse course or have the Vatican issue a "clarification" days later, has been a feature of his tenure since Day One. All the fawning media over his "radical" positions of basic decency on climate change, poverty, and the death penalty might have been overshadowed if he held public meeting with the Little Sisters of the Poor and (supposedly) Kim Davis.

Anyone who imagines it's not even possible for the Pope to have met with Kim Davis hasn't been paying attention.

This Pope isn't a liberal. His positions aren't even particularly better, especially on social issues, than his predecessors—he's just a much more sophisticated spinmaster. And he cunningly exploits our habits of not paying close attention, if we hear something that suits our hopes.

I will observe once again: Progressives' fascination with Pope Francis is mystifying. It is beyond the soft bigotry of low expectations. It is an epic failure to expect more.

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