After first refusing to confirm or deny it, the Vatican has confirmed that Pope Francis met with the Kentucky clerk Kim Davis at the Vatican Embassy in Washington, where Davis's attorney -- who made the news public after the pope's trip ended -- said Francis told her to "stay strong." We don't yet know all the details of how the meeting came to pass, but the optics of it are bad no matter what. This simple encounter completely undermines all the goodwill the pope created in downplaying "the gay issue" on his U.S. trip. The pope played us for fools, trying to have it both ways. He's an artful politician, telling different audiences what they want to hear on homosexuality.
Whether Pope Francis was addressing the U.S. Congress, the United Nations, or making speeches on difficult global issues like immigration, refugees, climate change, and war or visiting students, memorials, or joining with thousands of families at public events, his genuine voice and his presence was heard in America this week.
Morality, in the American political context, is almost universally thought of as consisting principally of the range of sexual issues. In contrast, morality, for Pope Francis, is much more encompassing. It includes the ways in which strangers are welcomed, the climate is repaired, and money, markets, and capital are put in proper perspective.