A county clerk who went to jail for defying court orders to issue same-sex marriage licences says she met briefly with the pope during his historic visit to the United States.
The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, did not deny the encounter took place – but said he had no comment on the topic.
Kim Davis and her husband met privately with Pope Francis last Thursday afternoon at the Vatican Embassy in Washington, DC, for less than 15 minutes, said her lawyer, Mat Staver.
“It was really very humbling to even think that he would want to meet me or know me,” Ms Davis said in an interview.
Ms Davis, an Apostolic Christian, spent five days in jail earlier this month for defying a federal court order to issue marriage licences to same-sex couples.
Mr Staver would not say who initiated the meeting with the pope or how it came to be, though he did say that Vatican officials had inquired about Ms Davis’s situation while she was in jail.
“He told me before he left, he said ’stay strong.’ That was a great encouragement,” Ms Davis said of the pope during the interview.
“Just knowing that the pope is on track with what we’re doing and agreeing, you know, it kind of validates everything.”
Ms Davis was in Washington for the Values Voter Summit, where the Family Research Council, which opposes same-sex marriage, presented her with an award for defying the federal judge.
Pope Francis did not focus on the divisive debate over same-sex marriage during his visit last week.
As he left the country, he told reporters who inquired that he did not know Ms Davis’s case in detail, but he defended conscientious objection as a human right.
“It is a right. And if a person does not allow others to be a conscientious objector, he denies a right,” Pope Francis said.