On his way back home Pope Francis took several questions from reporters on a wide range of topics, including one from ABC’s Terry Moran about whether the Holy Father supports government officials who, because of their religious beliefs, cannot carry out their duties, such as issuing gay ‘marriage’ licenses. Moran was, of course, referring to Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who was jailed for refusing to issue such licenses in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges ruling.
Francis responded that ‘conscientious objection’ is a ‘human right’ but admitted he couldn’t “have in mind all cases that can exist about conscience objection.” And while he never mentioned Davis’ case specifically, it was likely on his mind, given that he had just met with her.
In a statement published by the Liberty Counsel, her attorney Mat Staver says the pope met privately with Davis and her husband at the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, which a Vatican spokesman confirmed. Davis was in town for the Values Voter Summit, where she was presented with an award by the Family Research Council.
During the meeting Pope Francis said, "Thank you for your courage." Pope Francis also told Kim Davis, "Stay strong. He held out his hands and asked Kim to pray for him. Kim held his hands and said, "I will. Please pray for me," and the Pope said he would. The two embraced. The Pontiff presented Kim and Joe Davis each with a Rosary that he personally blessed. Kim's mother and father are Catholic, and Kim and Joe will present the Rosaries to her parents. Kim's mother was the elected Clerk of Court for Rowan County for 37 years until her retirement in 2014.
Kim Davis said, "I was humbled to meet Pope Francis. Of all people, why me?" Davis continued, "I never thought I would meet the Pope. Who am I to have this rare opportunity? I am just a County Clerk who loves Jesus and desires with all my heart to serve him." Kim said, "Pope Francis was kind, genuinely caring, and very personable. He even asked me to pray for him. Pope Francis thanked me for my courage and told me to 'stay strong."
“Religious freedom is a human right that comes from God,” said Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel. “These values are shared in common by people of faith, and the threats to religious freedom are universal. Kim Davis has become a symbol of this worldwide conflict between Christian faith and recent cultural challenges regarding marriage.”