Pope Francis held a private meeting with an openly gay couple during his visit to the United States last week and embraced both men.
The meeting was first reported on Friday by CNN’s Daniel Burke, who said one of the men, Yayo Grassi, took a high school class that was taught by Pope Francis in Argentina from 1964-1965. Grassi told CNN he arranged the meeting personally with Pope Francis over email. At the meeting, which took place at the Vatican Embassy in Washington D.C., Grassi was accompanied by some friends and his partner of 19 years.
A video of the meeting was posted online by Marisa Marchitelli, who described herself on Facebook as “good friends with a life long friend of the Pope” on Facebook.
The video shows Pope Francis entering a room where Grassi and his friends had been waiting. Speaking mostly in Spanish, Francis greeted each of the people in the room and shared a blessing. He kissed and hugged both Grassi and his partner.
Grassi told CNN Pope Francis is aware that he is gay. He also said the Pope has previously met him and his partner in Rome. Grassi said the Pope emailed him in the weeks leading up to his U.S. visit and said he would “love to give me a hug.” Grassi did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider on Friday.
The news of Pope Francis’ meeting with Grassi and his partner comes after it was revealed that the Catholic leader also met with Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who made headlines in recent weeks for refusing to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Pope Francis’ meeting with Davis led to speculation he endorsed her views, though a Vatican spokesman released a statement on Friday that said, “The Pope did not enter into the details of the situation of Mrs. Davis, and his meeting with her should not be considered a form of support of her position in all of its particular and complex aspects.” The Vatican’s statement also said “the only real audience granted by the Pope at the nunciature (embassy) was with one of his former students and his family.” That former student was Grassi.
Watch Marchitelli’s video of the Pope’s meeting with Grassi below.
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