The Vigano report and the Kim Davis distraction

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Sep 03, 2018

Pope Francis asked journalists to investigate the charges in the Vigano testimony, and draw their own conclusions. That’s fair enough—although it’s certainly surprising that the Vicar of Christ would not at least deny participating in what would amount to a repudiation of his own professed principles.

The Pope’s most aggressive allies, however, have done their best to discourage reporters from following up on the Vigano charges, instead offering a menu of potential distractions: Was Archbishop Vigano allied with the Pope’s conservative critics? Was he a disgruntled former employee? Did he engage in a cover-up himself? Was he at odds with his siblings? Was he unkind to the family pets? (And wasn’t someone recently warning against going down rabbit-holes?)

Now the acidic Father Rosica, the most ferocious critic of the Pope’s critics, has latched onto an ideal distraction: Kim Davis. If Archbishop Vigano can be linked with Davis—a woman who was mercilessly criticized by the American secular media—then maybe reporters will run away with that story-line, forgetting the original content of the Vigano testimony. So Father Rosica, joined by the former papal spokesman Father Federico Lombardi, have told the world that Pope Francis was unhappy with Archbishop Vigano for arranging a meeting with Davis.

But wait. Fathers Rosica and Lombardi do not say (as others have claimed) that the Davis meeting was a surprise for the Pontiff. On the contrary, they report that the Pope had been briefed, and knew who Davis was. The Pope’s complaint, they say, is that Archbishop Vigano had not reported on Davis’ own marital history: her four husbands.

But again, wait. Why should the Holy Father be dismayed about meeting a woman who has had four husbands? Isn’t this the Pontiff that encourages us all to “accompany” the people in irregular marital situations?

Secular reporters found it very easy to take pot shots at Kim Davis, mocking her accent and her looks and her marital history and her Appalachian background. If they take the hint from Fathers Rosica and Lombardi, they can now run with the story that Archbishop Vigano is an ally of Kim Davis, and forget about the substance of his charges.

But let’s not forget: Kim Davis was savaged in the mainstream media—and then suggested by Archbishop Vigano as a candidate for papal support—because she refused to put her name on a document that she believed to be false. If Catholic bishops showed the same determination not to betray the truth, we wouldn’t be where we are today.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: gj_brunning1835 - Sep. 04, 2018 6:15 PM ET USA

    God, in His mercy, may judge her four marriages less severely than countless sacrilegious Masses "celebrated" by one or more cardinal and many priests over many years. Her four marriages on one side of God's scale are offset, to some degree at least, by her standing for the truth that men can't marry men nor women, women. God bless her.

  • Posted by: jlw5094538 - Sep. 03, 2018 10:04 PM ET USA

    Loving Fr. Rosica may get me into heaven because, Lord, it's been Purgatory all the way.

  • Posted by: feedback - Sep. 03, 2018 12:08 PM ET USA

    Persistent betrayal of truth by those who are supposed to represent the Way, the Truth and the Life, is one of the common denominators of the current crisis. A woman who went to jail for the truth stands tall in comparison to them all.

  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Sep. 03, 2018 11:30 AM ET USA

    "The Pope’s complaint, they say, is that Archbishop Vigano had not reported on Davis’ own marital history: her four husbands." Let me get this straight. Are Frs. Rosica and Lombardi accusing Pope Francis of being judgmental regarding a question of irregular marriage? I hate to kick a dead horse, but doesn't "judgmental" in some way equate to "rigid," "black and white," "conservative"? Also, Christ explained Moses' reasoning behind divorce. As per Vatican II, are we to judge non-Catholic bodies?