Micahel Brendan Dougherty, "Why the media lost its mind over Kim Davis meeting Pope Francis"(The Week, October 1, 2015):
There's very little evidence that Pope Francis knows the details about Kim Davis. It's unclear if he has much to say about her stand against issuing licenses for same-sex marriages in Kentucky's Rowan County, her subsequent jail time, or even her Evangelical faith. Before the now infamous secret meeting between Francis and Davis — which the Vatican won't confirm or deny — the pope all but acknowledged his ignorance to a reporter: "I can't have in mind all cases that can exist about conscientious objection." And the reported details of their encounter suggest that it was routine and quick: an embrace, words of encouragement, and a gift of blessed rosaries.[Hat tip to JM]
But the whole world is mad. Why? Because the pope is a prop. In the hands of our nation's true clerical class — journalists — this particular pope's function is to demoralize and shame the bad Catholics, i.e., the conservative ones. The previous pope's function was to symbolize their wicked intransigence.
Pope Francis is supposed to be the cool pope. He humiliates traditionalist cardinals. He embraces transexuals. If he occasionally says stuff against gay marriage, well, so what? Like Barack Obama in the 2008 election, sometimes you say what you have to say. But we know where his heart is. He embraces the marginalized and despised.
The pope gets used. That tear-jerking moment when the pope embraced that 5-year-old girl who is trying to keep her parents in the country? That was planned out in advance.
But this prop accomplished what no upstanding playwright would script. He met someone the scribes really do despise. He embraced that hick. [emphasis added]