Kim Davis supporters who were whooping it up that the Kentucky clerk met up with Pope Francis last week may be dialing down their excitement a bit. First the Vatican announced Friday that their brief visit wasn't an endorsement of Davis' decision to not issue marriage licenses to gay couples in her home state, and that the "only real audience granted by the Pope at the nunciature [Vatican embassy] was with one of his former students and his family." Now an Argentine who's been in a same-sex relationship for 19 years says he was the one who met with the pontiff in DC the day before Davis did—and that he's an old, dear friend, CNN reports. Yayo Grassi, 67, met on Sept. 23 with Francis—whom he knew 50 years ago in Argentina as his high school literature and psych teacher Jorge Mario Bergoglio—and he brought his partner, Iwan Bagus, and four friends, per the New York Times.
"Once I saw how busy and exhausting his schedule was in DC, I wrote back to him saying perhaps it would be better to meet some other time," Grassi tells the Times. "Then he called me on the phone and he told me that he would love to give me a hug in Washington." So Grassi went through the proper channels and arranged the visit, which he says lasted "15 to 20 minutes" (a short video clip of the pope greeting him and Bagus can be seen at the Times). Grassi tells CNN that the pope has known he was gay for a long time but never criticized him or his relationship, and that he and Bagus had met with Francis once before in Rome. "Obviously he is the pastor of the church and he has to follow the church's teachings," Grassi adds. "But as a human being, he understands all kinds of situations, and he is open to all kinds of people, including those with different sexual characteristics." At the end of the meeting, the pope hugged both men and kissed them on the cheeks.