Kim Davis, the Kentucky county court clerk who was imprisoned for six days earlier this month for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, met Pope Francis during the Pontiff’s papal visit to America, according to a report in the New York Times.
The New York Times reported today that a Vatican spokesman had confirmed that the meeting definitely took place after it was first reported by Inside the Vatican yesterday.
Fr Federico Lombardi said that he did not deny that the meeting took place, but had “no other comments to add.”
A Christian lobby group, the Liberty Council, said in a statement yesterday that Pope Francis met Davis and her husband, Joe, at the Vatican’s embassy in Washington DC on Thursday.
The Liberty Council statement reports that during the meeting, Pope Francis said to Davis, “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 statement added.
“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.”
Davis told the Liberty Council that she was “humbled” to meet Pope Francis.
“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 said.
“Pope Francis was kind, genuinely caring, and very personable.”
Davis’s lawyer and the Liberty Council’s founder and chairman, Matt Staver, added: “The challenges we face in America regarding the sanctity of human life, marriage, and religious freedom are the same universal challenges Christians face around the world. Religious freedom is a human right that comes from God.
“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.”
During a press conference on his flight home to Rome on Sunday, when asked a question that appeared to reference the Davis case, Pope Francis described conscientious objection as “a human right”.
“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. Conscientious objection must enter into every juridical structure because it is a right, a human right,” he said.