“I cannot not deny the meeting took place but I have no comments to add,” Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi said Wednesday in reaction to media reports that Pope Francis had met with Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who spent six days in jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, in Washington, D.C. She has said her Christian belief in marriage as ordained by God between one man and one woman would not allow her to issue licenses to same-sex couples.

Fr. Lombardi said he had nothing further to add to that statement.

Davis spoke with several media outlets in recent days. It appears the meeting took place at the Vatican nunciature in Washington last Thursday, the day that Pope Francis addressed Congress. NPR reported that Davis was in Washington for another purpose: She received a Cost of Discipleship award at the Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit on Friday night.


Pope Francis dedicated the catechesis of the Wednesday general audience in St. Peter’s Square to his just-conclued apostolic trip to Cuba and the United States, visiting both nations for the first time. His trip was occasioned by the Eighth World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia that took place from September 22 to 27.

AG - Sept 30

Before starting the weekly catechesis the Pope met with over 400 disabled and sick pilgrims in the Paul VI Hall.

While in the U.S. the Pope visited Washington, D.C., New York and Philaelphia. He thanked president Raul Castro of Cuba, the first country he visited, as well as U.S. president Barack Obama and United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-Moon, for their respective welcomes.

Francis said he went to Cuba, “a land rich in natural beauty, culture and faith” as a “Missionary of Mercy. … God’s mercy is greater than any affliction, any conflict, any ideology; and with this gaze of mercy I was able to embrace the entire Cuban population, at home and abroad, looking beyond any division. The symbol of this deep unity is Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre, … Patroness of Cuba, … Mother of Hope … who guides us on the path of justice, peace, freedom and reconciliation. … I was able to share with the Cuban people the hope of fulfilling the prophecy of St. John Paul II: that Cuba will open up to the world, and the world will open up to Cuba. No more closure, no more exploitation of the poor, but instead freedom and dignity. It is the path that draws strength from the Christian roots of the people, who have suffered greatly.”

The Holy Father then spoke of the next leg of his trip, saying that travelling to the U.S. after Cuba, was “a symbolic step, a bridge that, thanks be to God, is being rebuilt. … God always wants to build bridges; we are the ones who build walls. But walls always fall down.”

In Washington D.C. note the Pope, he met not only with the political authorities, but also the clergy, the poor and the marginalised. The greatest wealth of the country and her people is her “spiritual and ethical heritage. And so, I wanted to encourage to continuation of social construction faithful to the United States’ fundamental principle, that all men are created by God, equal and endowed with inalienable rights, such as life, liberty an the pursuit of happiness. These values, that may be shared by all, find their fulfilment in the Gospel, as was clearly shown by the canonisation of the Franciscan Fr. Junipero Serra, the great evangelizer of California. St. Junipero shows us the way to joy: going forth and sharing Christ’s love with others. This is the way of Christians, but also of any person who has known love: not to keep it to oneself but to share it with others. The United States of America have grown on this religious and moral base, and on this base they can continue to be a land of freedom, welcome and cooperation for a more just and fraternal world”.

Speaking of his time in New York Francis mentioned his address to the General Assembly of the United Nations as this organization marks its 70th anniversary. The Pope renewed the Catholic Church’s commitment to support the U.N. and “its role in the promotion of development and peace, especially with regard to the need for joint and active commitment to care for creation.” He stressed his appeal “to stop and prevent violence against ethnic and religious minorities and against civil populations.”

And the Holy Father described how he had prayed at Ground Zero for peace and fraternity, accompanied by representatives of various religions and families of victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks, and later celebrated Mass for peace and justice in Madison Square Garden.

“In both Washington D.C. and New York I was able to meet various charitable and educational bodies, emblematic of the enormous service that the Catholic community – priests, man and women religious, and laypeople – offer in these fields.”

Pope Francis then travelled to the focus of his nine-day journey – the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, “where the horizon extends to all the world through the ‘prism’ of the family.”

He underscored that “the family is the answer to the great challenge of our world, which is a dual challenge: fragmentation and solidification, two extremes which co-exist, support each other and together support the consumerist economic model. The family is the answer as it is the cell of a society that balances the personal and community dimensions, and at the same time the model for a sustainable management of the goods and resources of creation. The family is the protagonist of an integral ecology, as it is the primary social subject which contains within itself the two basic principals of human civilisation on earth: the principles of communion and fruitfulness. Biblical humanism presents us with this icon: the human couple, united and fruitful, placed by God in the garden of the world to cultivate it and protect it”.

The Holy Father’s final words were for Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, saying his great love for the family was made manifest in the organization of the event. “It is not by chance, but rather providential that … the witness of the World Meeting of Families came at this moment from the United States of America – that is, the country that during the last century reached the highest level of economic and technological development without renouncing its religious roots. Now these same roots are asking to be replanted in the family, to rethink and change the model of development, for the good of the entire human family.”


PAPAL SPEECHES + MUSIC = NEW CD (Vatican Radio) – A new CD combining the speeches of Pope Francis with different styles of music will be released on 27 November. The album is called Wake Up!, and will bring together excerpts of speeches in different languages with music ranging from Gregorian chant to rock-n-roll. Rolling Stone magazine’s website premiered the first track “Wake Up! Go! Go! Forward!”, which uses a speech Pope Francis gave in South Korea, and the album can currently be pre-ordered on iTunes. The Pope speaks in Italian, English, Spanish and Portuguese on the album, which has 11 tracks.


VATICAN HOSTS NEW DIGITAL LIBRARY (Vatican Radio) – At a press conference in the Vatican on Wednesday, a new online digital library was launched, offering access to over a thousand papal documents on communications from the first to the twenty-first century. The initiative, known as the Baragli Project, features papal teachings on communication, translated into different languages, and is geared especially to those working in Catholic education and training centers. The Project is named after Jesuit Father Enrico Baragli, who died in 2001 and was in the forefront of research into the way the Catholic Church has communicated its message over the centuries. It is being promoted by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, together with the Faculty of Social Communication at the Pontifical Salesian University, the Vatican Publishing House and website. The digital library features a “navigator” that helps explore available online sources. The archive will be continuously expanded to include new documents, as well as other material from individual Church leaders, from bishops conferences and from other Christian churches and communities. It offers a platform for reading and personal study, as well as an open environment for collaboration with other users. The beta version in Italian went live on September 30th and can be found at




The Vatican daily, L’Osservatore Romano, in its September 29th edition published some of the comments made by the international media at the end of Pope Francis’ September 19 to 27 trip to Cuba and the United States:

Pope Francis showed his “deft touch” in navigating the divisions in the U.S. The assessment was published in the 29 September edition of the “International New York Times”, which reveals that, despite the gruelling schedule on U.S. soil, the Pontiff took on the various commitments with remarkable ease.

-S.S. Francesco - Viaggio Apostolico negli Stati Uniti - Santa Messa  a conclusione dell'VIII Incontro  mondiale delle famiglie  27-09-2015  - (Copyright L'OSSERVATORE ROMANO - Servizio Fotografico -

-S.S. Francesco – Viaggio Apostolico negli Stati Uniti – Santa Messa a conclusione dell’VIII Incontro mondiale delle famiglie 27-09-2015
– (Copyright L’OSSERVATORE ROMANO – Servizio Fotografico –

The article by Jim Yardley and Laurie Goodstein at the end of his visit, points out that he “seemed to have had fun”. The daily newspaper states that Francis had landed for the first time in “a country that he did not know and that did not know him”, but now the situation has changed. The United States now truly knows who the Pope is, and its people know what lessons to assimilate after his visit. The U.S. landscape is “a minefield of political and religious divisions”, yet the Pontiff “demonstrated a nuanced political dexterity”, with a message based on dialogue and constructive debate: and the nation, at this moment, needs exactly this.

The visit, Yardley and Goodstein indicate, was a gift for the United States which, on many levels, is in a delicate phase of transition, and needed the presence in its own home of someone who truly embodies moral leadership. The visit was likewise a success for the Pope who, after winning the nation’s heart, has returned to the Vatican bolstered by the manner in which he managed to defend the Church’s position on particularly delicate issues.

Also on Tuesday, 29 September, “The Wall Street Journal” highlighted the Pope’s defence of religious freedom, which was a common theme at various stops during the pilgrimage on American soil. In this regard, the edition referred to Francis’ words to President Obama at the White House ceremony, “that Americans should be ‘vigilant’ to ‘preserve and defend [religious] freedom from everything that would threaten or compromise it’”. The words used by the Pope during his U.S. visit were “masterful”, said Paul Vallely in “The Guardian”, again in an article on Tuesday, 29. Even his actions are worthy of high praise, for they were always wisely balanced. The Pope, the British daily continues, was able to move adroitly whether on “the grand stage” such as the White House, Congress, and the U.N. Yet at the same time he embraced the poor, immigrants, detainees: all with his characteristic simplicity and humility. “The Guardian” also noted the Pope’s call that bishops be less severe and divisive. In this regard, Paul Vallely pointed out the Pontiff’s agility in telling the bishops that he had not come to judge them nor to lecture them, however, the journalist writes, he did just that. Thus his softer style, seeking to encourage greater tolerance and more inclusivity, was even more effective, Vallely concludes.

In the 29 September issue of “USA Today”, Rick Hampson writes that Pope Francis is unique in his ability to be “plainspoken, pointed and provocative ”. And these traits find fertile ground in today’s world, where key words are immigration, economic disparity and environmental protection. Indeed, these extremely important, complex and delicate topics need to be dealt with without mincing words and without evasive language. It is in this precise landscape that Francis stands out and with him his style which make immediacy and transparency his tool of choice to get to the heart of every issue. Then, Hampson adds, with Francis every journalist feels particularly at ease: his addresses are so practical and direct that one never has trouble finding a title or the lead. Instead, it can be difficult to choose just one.

“Before concluding his six-day visit in the United States with an open-air Mass” — writes Stéphanie Le Bars in “Le Monde” on 29 September — “Pope Francis addressed the hundreds of bishops from around the world gathered in Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families, giving them some instructions as to how help the Catholic Church live in a world that has become ‘a large supermarket’”. Running “the risk” — the journalist continues — “of clashing with the most conservative trends of the Church, Francis has above all recalled that Christians are not immune to the changes of their time”. Placing himself far away, Le Bars writes, from party positions in the United States, for a cultural war between the Church and the contemporary world, the Pope urges the bishops to invest their energy in the young, inviting them to be brave and willing to choose family and marriage. There is indeed an obvious link, the French daily states, between the conclusion of the historic overseas journey and the imminent Synod on the Family, which opens on 5 October.

In his blog on the web site of the daily “la Croix”, Dominique Greiner takes stock of the days in the States. On the occasion of the speeches to the U.S. Congress on 24 September and to the UN General Assembly the following day, “Francis’ message lost absolutely none of its force”. On these occasions in particular, the Pontiff outlined a sort of portrait of good government, whether national or international: it must follow the path of law and legislation to contain and regulate human presumptions; politicians must always remember that before them are men and women of flesh and blood, who live and fight and suffer, and thus they need practical concrete, effective and practical decisions in order to face the needs of the times; political action must be guided by courage and by intelligence, avoiding simplistic and reductive readings of the social and political landscape. Only thus does the common good truly follow.

In an editorial in “Avvenire” on 29 September, Mimmo Muolo underscores that “the Latin American Pope has managed to build bridges where until recently stood barriers of hatred and a lack of communication. Thus reconciliation among states, governments and peoples, in the first place. And this visit, he adds, “will stand in history also because Francis was able to extend the appeal to reconciliation beyond the area of international relations. In Cuba he preached reconciliation among the needs of governments and those of the governed. In Washington he joined liberty — the trademark of the United States — with justice, especially social”.