Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk, who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, met Pope Francis who told her to “stay strong,” her lawyers claimed Tuesday.
Lawyers with Liberty Counsel, a nonprofit, said Mrs. Davis and her husband, Joe, met the pope Thursday at the Vatican Embassy in Washington, D.C., and spoke with him in English.
“Thank you for your courage,” Francis told Mrs. Davis, the lawyers said in their statement. “Stay strong.”
Her lawyers said Francis asked Mrs. Davis to pray for him, the two embraced and then she and her husband were each given a rosary that he had blessed.
Mrs. Davis is an Apostolic Christian, but her parents are Catholic and she plans to give them the rosaries, her lawyers said.
“I was humbled to meet Pope Francis. Of all people, why me?” Mrs. Davis said in the written statement. “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.”
She continued: “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.’ “
On his last day in the United States, Francis spoke with reporters on the papal plane and was asked by Terry Moran of ABC News if conscientious objection is a human right, even for government officials.
ABC News said Francis responded: “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.”
In his comments, the pope never mentioned Mrs. Davis by name.
Mat Staver, Mrs. Davis’ lawyer and the founding member and chairman of Liberty Counsel, said, “Not only did Pope Francis know of Kim Davis, he personally met with her to express his support.”
The Vatican did not respond to The Washington Times for comment, but the Rev. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, confirmed to The New York Times on Wednesday that the meeting took place, but he declined to elaborate.
“I do not deny that the meeting took place, but I have no other comments to add,” he told The New York Times.
Mrs. Davis, a Rowan County clerk, was sent to jail for several days for contempt of court after she refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. She was released on the condition that she does not interfere with the process of issuing the marriage licenses.
Her deputies had been issuing the licenses when she was in jail, and the judge and governor both said the forms were valid without Mrs. Davis’ signature.
When she was released from jail, she took the forms and altered them to remove her name and the name of the county.
Now, some of the homosexual and heterosexual couples are asking the judge whether she violated the terms of her release by altering the forms.