Kentucky County clerk, Kim Davis, who made headlines after refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, reportedly had a private meeting with Pope Francis when the pontiff visited the United States.
According to a statement provided by Liberty Council, the private meeting between the pope and Davis and her husband, Joe, took place on September 24 at the Vatican Embassy in Washington, D.C.
When asked if government officials are within their rights in disobeying the law citing religious beliefs, Pope Francis said, “I can’t have in mind all the cases that can exist about conscientious objection, but, yes, I can say that conscientious objection is a right that is a part of every human right. It is a right. And if a person does not allow others to be a conscientious objector, he denies a right.”
When further asked if the same can be applied for a government official, he said, “It is a human right and if a government official is a human person, he has that right. It is a human right.” Neither the Vatican nor the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, D.C., have offered any comment.
Also read: Kim Davis: Anti-Gay Kentucky Clerk Released From Jail, Ordered Not To Interfere With Issuing Same-Sex Marriage Licenses
According to Inside the Vatican, Davis said the pope thanked her for her “courage” and asked her to remain strong. “I had asked a monsignor earlier what was the proper way to greet the Pope, and whether it would be appropriate for me to embrace him, and I had been told it would be okay to hug him,” she said. “So I hugged him, and he hugged me back. It was an extraordinary moment. ‘Stay strong,’ he said to me. Then he gave me a rosary as a gift, and he gave one also to my husband, Joe. I broke into tears. I was deeply moved.”
She further said, “He assured me that he would pray for me.”
Davis drew nationwide rebuke after she refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Rowan County, citing “God’s word.” She was held in contempt of court and was jailed for five nights. Although she was subsequently ordered to be released after five of her six deputies started issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples – the only exception was Davis’ son – she was told to not interfere in her deputies’ duties.
According to NBC News, Davis said in a statement released by Liberty Council that she was “humbled” and that getting an opportunity to meet with the pope was completely unexpected. “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,” Davis 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.'”
As reported by ABC News, Davis had said last week that her religious beliefs have precedence over her professional responsibilities. “My constituents elected me. But the main authority that rules my life is the Lord,” she said. Her stand against same-sex marriages has attracted support and reproach alike, with several people calling her a hypocrite.
Many people took to Twitter to express their criticism – Justin W. White wrote, “So Kim Davis, who has been married four times, refuses to give marriage certificates to people she deems in sin? Oh. Okay. #Hypocrite.” Lee W D tweeted, “If #KimDavis can’t do her job, sack her. All this ‘religious freedom’ BS. Doesn’t mean she can discriminate. Oh and 3 divorces?! Hypocrite.”
“What people say about me does not define who I am,” Davis said. “That’s everybody’s opinion and that’s everybody’s right. I’ve been called things and names that I didn’t even say when I was in the world. Those names don’t hurt me. What probably hurt me the worst is when someone tells me that my God does not love me or that my God is not happy with me, that I am a hypocrite of a Christian.”
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