Kim Davis and Pope Francis’s Grand Strategy

New York Times

Ross Douthat

SEPTEMBER 30, 2015 September 30, 2015

It appears we have a backhanded, non-denial version of Vatican confirmation of the story that Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk briefly jailed for her refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, was received by Pope Francis privately during his visit to the United States. (For the story to be false, the Davises would have needed to be pathological liars and someone in Rome would need to have baldly lied to the well-sourced Robert Moynihan of Inside the Vatican, so it was already reasonable to treat the news as basically confirmed.) This is a fairly surprising bit of news; it also lends some credence to Philip Lawler’s interpretation of this pope’s approach to the American culture war, which he offered after Francis’s address in Washington last week:

Pope Francis challenged Americans of both liberal and conservative political sympathies in his historic address to Congress on September 24. But his objections to conservative stands were clear and direct, while his criticism of liberals subtle and oblique. Why?

… Is it because he knows that the American defenders of life and of marriage really are in sympathy with the Catholic Church, whereas proponents of abortion and homosexuality are fundamentally hostile? Because he knows that he must first establish some common ground with liberal secularists (including some who masquerade as Catholics) before he can expect any positive response? Because he realizes that he can encourage pro-lifers indirectly, and the message will come through loud and clear? Maybe the Pope is reaching out to the lost sheep, confident that the others will await his return.

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