RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
The leadership of the Catholic Church does oppose same-sex marriage, but there are many faithful Catholics who disagree with that position. Marianne Duddy-Burke is the executive director of Dignity USA, an organization of LGBT Catholics, and joins us to talk about it. Good morning.
MARIANNE DUDDY-BURKE: Hello, Renee.
MONTAGNE: What did you think when you heard the news that Pope Francis had met with Kim Davis?
DUDDY-BURKE: I was totally shocked, and I actually heard from a lot of LGBT Catholics and supporters who originally could not believe that this was true. And then as the details came out, you know, there was just a huge sense of betrayal and outrage. One person wanted to have a big bonfire and burn pope memorabilia, you know - just a real sense that this pope on whom so many people had pinned so much hope would do something like this was seen as a real slap in the face.
MONTAGNE: Well, and of course, you attended, I gather, the White House reception for Pope Francis.
MONTAGNE: At the invitation of the White House - at that point in time in Washington, D.C., were you feeling pretty good about the pope?
DUDDY-BURKE: Well, I have to say I was listening pretty carefully. It was certainly very exciting to be there with both President Obama and Pope Francis. And I did hear some things that were mildly concerning. You know, the pope did link protection of marriage, religious liberty and a phrase of unjust discrimination together in language that, you know - it set up a little bit of a red flag. But throughout the rest of the visit, there was a real sense of joy in the church and inclusion, and I think many LGBT Catholics were pretty moved.
MONTAGNE: Although, let me ask you - when it comes to marriage, it is one of the sacraments of the Catholic Church, not something that would change quickly. What about that? Is there any understanding that redefining a sacrament is not the same as, say, moving in a more warm direction towards the LGBT community?
DUDDY-BURKE: Well, I think there are two separate issues here. We certainly hope that the sacramental marriage for same-sex couples will eventually be recognized for the church and are actually working towards that. But right now we're talking about the official church's response to civil marriage, you know, in our country and many other countries around the world, and what we're seeing is a lot of bishops and other right-wing religious leaders still trying to undermine the right of LGBT couples and particularly same-sex couples to obtain marriage licenses and to have their relationships recognized under civil law.
MONTAGNE: So it's not just the church's own beliefs. It's allowing for rights outside the church - that is secular rights.
DUDDY-BURKE: Exactly. It's about allowing LGBT people to exercise their full civil rights in this country and to have our families and our relationships protected under the law.
MONTAGNE: Now, just finally, we did just hear from the Vatican correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter that there is a possibility at least - because it's very unclear how this all came about - that the pope did not know who Kim Davis was in the sense of the controversy.
DUDDY-BURKE: Well, I think it's really important that the Vatican come clean, as it were, about how this meeting was set up, who arranged it and what the Vatican hoped to accomplish by having Pope Francis meet with this woman. I think it's really important that they're aware that the visuals of this send a message that is very exclusionary to people who have been faithful to the church despite a lot of oppression.
MONTAGNE: Well, thank you very much for talking with us.
DUDDY-BURKE: Thank you for having me.
MONTAGNE: Marianne Duddy-Burke is the head of Dignity USA. It's an organization of LGBT Catholics. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.