Culture

Hugging Kim Davis

Kim Davis (Ty Wright/Getty)

They hugged. Kim Davis asked in advance whether it would be okay to hug the pope and was told yes. So she hugged him and he hugged her back.

Preach incessantly. Use words when necessary.

The Left was confused, and perturbed in their efforts to misunderstand Pope Francis as “one of them.”

“The news that Pope Francis met privately in Washington, D.C., with Kim Davis throws a wet blanket on the goodwill that the pontiff had garnered during his U.S. visit last week,” Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, an advocacy group for gay Catholics, told the New York Times.

#share#It was a gesture worth a million words. He’s not one of “us” and he’s not one of “them.” He’s Catholic, this pope, seeking a way out of ideology and into truth with love. It’s not easy.

Someone in the Vatican clearly arranged this meeting and someone else didn’t like it, leading to an agreement that Kim Davis wouldn’t speak of the event until after Pope Francis left the country, to a strange eight-hour refusal by the Vatican to acknowledge the meeting, and to an equally strange non-denial confirmation that it had happened. But the pope refused to disappoint the woman from Rowan County, Ky., refused to cancel the meeting.

#related#The pope is Catholic, surprise, but he is also something else: He is fundamentally a humanist, calling for and choosing the human encounter over the tight and narrow box of ideology, right or left.

Kim Davis was raised Catholic but finally met Christ in a small Pentecostal church after a life checkered with sin and suffering. She is despised by the Left and disowned even by many conservatives who, unlike Pope Francis, begin with the ideological framework of religious liberty. Rod Dreher and Ross Douthat both gently disowned her, for example.

So have a number of presidential candidates, including Carly Fiorina and John Kasich, both of whom, faced with the reality of Kim Davis, sided with the abstract right of the law rather than with the human person.

“She’s not running a church,” Kasich said on national TV, just a few weeks ago. ‘I wouldn’t force this on a church, but in terms of her responsibility I think she has to comply.”

On Hugh Hewitt’s radio show, Carly Fiorina sided with the long arm of the law against Kim Davis: “Given the role that she’s playing, given the fact that the government is paying her salary, I think that is not appropriate. Now that’s my personal opinion. Others may disagree with that, but I think it’s a very different situation for her than someone in a hospital who’s asked to perform an abortion or someone at a florist who’s asked to serve a gay wedding. I think when you’re a government employee, you are put into a different position, honestly.”

On the plane back to Rome, Pope Francis emphasized that conscientious objection is a human right — emphasis on the human, not the right. There is no general right to disobey the law. But when a loving, law-abiding human being is willing to go to jail rather than obey a law, she or he asks the rest of us: Are we okay with this? Can we find no other solution? Kim Davis has no general right to disobey the law, but we have a responsibility to craft laws in such a way that we don’t leave her out, exclude and marginalize her. Pope Francis, Christian humanist, shows us, with one hug, what love and truth require.

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