Pope Francis Met With An Openly Gay Man & His Boyfriend

For American liberals, Pope Francis’ first-ever U.S. visit ended on a somewhat sour note after news broke of a private meeting between the pontiff and Kentucky clerk Kim Davis. But according to the Vatican, the pope held only one “audience” during his U.S. visit: with an openly gay former student and his partner. Yayo Grassi and his longtime partner, Iwan Bagus, met with Pope Francis at Washington’s nunciature on September 23, just one day before the pope’s brief meeting with Kim Davis. "He met with me and my boyfriend — knowing that I am his friend and that my boyfriend is my boyfriend," Grassi told CNBC. "We did not talk about gay marriage. I know what he thinks." This meeting changes the narrative of Davis’ encounter with the pope. In a statement released on Friday, Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi already pushed away from Davis, saying Francis met with “several dozen” people at the Vatican’s Washington embassy, adding that such meetings can be as short as five minutes. "The pope did not enter into the details of the situation of Mrs. Davis and his meeting with her should not be considered a form of support of her position in all of its particular and complex aspects," Lombardi said. "The only real audience granted by the pope at the nunciature was with one of his former students and his family," Lombardi added. At the time, the Vatican did not reveal the student’s identity, but Grassi came forward after a video posted online showed him entering the embassy, hugging the pope, and introducing his partner to Francis. In the video, the pope embraces both Grassi and Bagus, who then kisses Francis on the cheek. "We have been friends for a long time. He knows about me being gay and he has a lot of respect for me being gay and Iwan being my partner," Grassi said. His friendship with the pope dates back to his high school days in the '60s, when Pope Francis taught him literature and psychology at a Jesuit high school in Argentina. According to The New York Times, Grassi visited the pope at the Vatican in September 2013 and contacted his office for an audience in Washington. Progressives felt like they’d been duped after Pope Francis’ U.S. visit: One minute, the Pope was preaching about climate change and helping the poor; the next, he was meeting with Kim Davis, who was jailed after refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples despite June’s Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage in all 50 states. On Wednesday, Vatican spokesman Rev. Manuel Dorantes confirmed to The Washington Post that “the meeting took place, but I have no comments to add.” Shortly after, Davis told ABC that she and her husband met with the pope at the Vatican’s nunciature in Washington, where he told her to “stay strong." "Just knowing that the pope is on track with what we're doing and agreeing, you know, it kind of validates everything," Davis told ABC. Despite Davis’ belief that the pope was on her side, Pope Francis' private audience with Grassi may suggest otherwise.

More from Politics

R29 Original Series