The encounter between Pope Francis and anti-gay advocate Kim Davis has been blown out of proportion, and now, Pope Francis’ longtime gay friend, Yayo Grassi, is setting the record straight. Pope Francis does not condemn, he does not judge, and he does not favor one soul over another – whether that soul is gay, anti-gay, transgender, or even atheist.
As reported by CNN on October 2, Yayo Grassi, 67, “is willing to talk about his private moment with the pontiff because he was upset about media coverage of the Pope’s meeting with Davis.” Grassi, who is an openly gay man and an atheist, was personally invited by Pope Francis for a brief visit at the Vatican Embassy in Washington on September 23.
During the visit with the Pope, Grassi brought his partner, Iwan Bagus, and other gay friends because they had experienced tough times and were in dire need of emotional support. The relationship between Grassi and Francis had not always been easy. Grassi studied literature and psychology at Inmaculada Concepcion, a Catholic high school in Sante Fe, Argentina, from 1964 to 1965, but when he and his teacher, Pope Francis, met in Washington, both men hugged.
Grassi said that his longtime friend has always known that he is gay, but that he has never condemned his sexuality or his same-sex relationship. “He has never been judgmental. He has never said anything negative.”
Pope Francis met Kim Davis – along with several other dozens of people — the day after his visit with his longtime gay friend. Republicans have cheered the encounter while liberals have questioned whether Pope Francis was adequately informed about Davis’ background. Whether due to language interferences, visitors’ fatigue, or lack of background information, Kim Davis most likely heard the same words that Pope Francis has told many other women, “be courageous, be strong.”
In regard to the meeting between Pope Francis and anti-gay advocate Kim Davis, Grassi says that the Pope was “misled” into meeting with Davis who had served six days in a Kentucky jai for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. “Davis’ lawyers had portrayed the papal meeting as an endorsement of her cause,” even though the brief encounter between the two was not based on any kind of endorsement but part of the Pope’s tradition to connect with all kinds of people. As Rolling Stone writes, “such brief greetings occur on all papal visits and are due to the Pope’s characteristic kindness and availability. The only real audience granted by the Pope at the Nunciature was with one of his former students [Grassi] and his family.”It is the anti-gay advocate’s lawyer who is making more out of the encounter between Pope Francis and Kim Davis.