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Pope Francis met with gay couple while in the U.S.
From press releases

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From an HRC press release

WASHINGTON — Today, in response to reports that Pope Francis met privately with a local same-sex couple during his visit to the nation's capital, Chad Griffin, President of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, released the following statement:

"It is heartening news that Pope Francis met privately with his friend and former student, Yayo Grassi, and his partner of 19 years, Iwan. It now not only appears that the Pope's encounter with Kim Davis has been mischaracterized, but that Pope Francis embraced these longtime friends."

Grassi's partner posted on Facebook a brief video of the couple's meeting with Pope Francis; the Vatican has not yet confirmed the meeting or its details.

The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

From a New Ways Ministry press release:

Statement of Francis DeBernardo, Executive Director, New Ways Ministry:

MOUNT RAINIER, Maryland— While I am glad to hear the story of the Yayo Grassi meeting, I still wish that Pope Francis would be more forthcoming about his personal experiences and relationships with LGBT people. That kind of openness would set a great example for bishops and other church leaders who cringe at the thought of any association with LGBT people or issues.

And while it is wonderful to hear of Pope Francis' personal admiration for this gay couple, it would be much more effective if he would set up formal dialogues with LGBT Catholics to discuss church teaching, policy, and pastoral practice. As I stated two days ago, the time for vagueness, ambiguity, and secret meetings is over.

Had the Vatican responded more quickly and efficiently to the Davis story, so much ink and computer time could have been saved. When the pope has made statements that have been interpreted positively by progressives, the Vatican spokesperson is always swift to clarify that such an interpretation is wrong. They should have also been equally speedy in clarifying the insignificance of the Kim Davis meeting, saving much heartache and concern by people all over the U.S. and around the world.

Moreover, had the Vatican been more forthcoming about the context of the Grassi meeting, they would have immediately gained much respect and admiration from the LGBT community.

I wonder why the Vatican, besieged in the last few days by criticisms from the LGBT community, did not reveal the details of this meeting the pope had with a gay couple. It would have won great support for them and the pontiff. The pope is a public person and so his meetings have public significance. Was the Vatican totally unaware of the many repeated calls by LGBT Catholics for an opportunity to visit with him while he was in the U.S.?

I hope that both Pope Francis and the Vatican have learned some lessons from these experiences about communication and symbolism. The main lesson that I hope they take away from these incidents is that many people are confused as to where Pope Francis stands on LGBT issues If Pope Francis would clarify where he stands on some of the vague messages he has made with regard to LGBT issues, this whole media storm could have been avoided.

New Ways Ministry is a 38-year old national Catholic ministry of justice and reconciliation for LGBT Catholics and the wider church community. For more information, visit .

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