Washington D.C., Sep 30, 2015 / 07:47 am
Embattled county clerk Kim Davis met with Pope Francis in Washington, D.C. last Thursday, her lawyer has told multiple media outlets.
When asked about the meeting, the head of the Holy See press office, Fr Federico Lombardi, said, "I don't deny that the meeting may have taken place but I don't have comments to add."
Robert Moynihan, editor of the publication "Inside the Vatican," first broke the story about the alleged meeting. According to his account, Pope Francis and Davis met at the Vatican Embassy in D.C. on Thursday afternoon after the Pope's address to the U.S. Congress. He offered her words of support – "Thank you for your courage" – and told her to "stay strong," offering rosaries to Davis and her husband.
Davis, a clerk for Rowan County, Kentucky, made headlines this past summer for refusing out of conscience to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, after the U.S. Supreme Court in June legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states in its decision Obergefell v. Hodges.
The district court judge ordered that Davis serve jail time for refusing to obey the law, stating that her conscientious objection was not enough for her to lawfully recuse herself from issuing licenses. Davis served five days in jail.
According to Moynihan, Vatican sources confirmed the details of the meeting. Davis' attorney Mathew Staver confirmed to multiple outlets that the meeting occurred and told CBS News that the two promised to pray for each other, and that Pope Francis offered Davis and her husband rosaries.
"I can confirm the meeting took place Thursday afternoon in DC," the Twitter account for Mathew Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel and attorney for Davis, said on Tuesday night.
Liberty Counsel released a statement Tuesday evening linking to Moynihan's report. The rosaries that Pope Francis reportedly presented to Davis and her husband were blessed by the Pope and would be given to Kim's parents, both of whom are Catholic, the group said.
According to the Liberty Counsel statement, Davis responded that she was "humbled" to meet the Pope.
"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,'" she said, according to the statement.
Pope Francis made an unscheduled stop to visit with the Little Sisters of the Poor in Washington, D.C., at their Jeanne Jugan Residence Sept. 23 to support the sisters as they await word on whether or not the Supreme Court will hear their case against the federal contraception mandate.
The sisters sued the Obama administration over its mandate that employers cover sterilizations, contraceptives, and drugs that can cause abortions in employee health plans. Although revised rules were offered in the manner of an "accommodation," the sisters still charge that the updated rules would force them to violate their consciences, or endure crippling fines.
On the flight back to Rome from the U.S., Pope Francis was asked by ABC's Terry Moran about his visit to the sisters, along with whether he supported the appeal to religious liberty made by those, including government clerks, who could not obey a law in good conscience. Moran gave the example of "issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples."
Pope Francis answered that "I can't have in mind all cases that can exist about conscientious objection. But, yes, I can say conscientious objection is a right that is a part of every human right."
When asked if government officials possessed this right he answered, "It is a human right and if a government official is a human person, he has that right. It is a human right."