A Kentucky clerk who went to jail for defying a federal court’s orders to issue same-sex marriage licenses claims she briefly met with the pope during his historic visit to the United States and he encouraged her to stay strong. The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, didn’t deny the encounter took place but instead said Wednesday in Rome he had no comment on the topic.
Her lawyer, Mat Staver says last Thursday afternoon Rowan County clerk Kim Davis and her husband met privately with Pope Francis at the Vatican Embassy in Washington, D.C., for less than 15 minutes. Earlier this month Davis, an Apostolic Christian, spent five days in jail for defying a federal court order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
In a telephone interview late Tuesday, Staver would not comment on who initiated the meeting with the pope or how it came to be, although he did say that Vatican officials (who he would not name) had inquired about Davis’ situation while she was in jail. Davis said of the pope during the ABC interview “He told me before he left, he said ‘stay strong.’ That was a great encouragement. Just knowing that the pope is on track with what we’re doing and agreeing, you know, it kind of validates everything.”
Davis was in Washington for the Values Voter Summit, where she was presented with an award for defying the federal judge by the Family Research Council, which opposes same-sex marriage. During her stay in Washington, the longtime Democrat said she was switching to the Republican party because she felt abandoned by Democrats in her fight against same-sex marriage.
Pope Francis didn’t focus on the same-sex marriage debate during his visit last week, however as he left the country, he told reporters who inquired that he was not familiar with Davis’ case in detail, but he defended conscientious objection as a human right.
Francis said “It is a right. And if a person does not allow others to be a conscientious objector, he denies a right.”
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