A Kentucky county clerk who had been jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples secretly met Pope Francis during his visit to the United States last week, a meeting she called greatly encouraging.
The Vatican confirmed the pope’s meeting in a brief statement on Wednesday.
Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis and her husband met the pope during the Washington leg of his U.S. visit, she and her lawyer told American media.
With the issue of same-sex marriage dividing Americans, the pope’s meeting with Davis and Francis’ comments on Monday may further embolden local officials across the United States who have said they will not issue marriage licenses to gay couples.
In Texas, Alabama and elsewhere a number of clerks and judges who stated their opposition to gay marriage have thrown up roadblocks to the unions.
Alabama Probate Judge Nick Williams said he would be willing to follow Davis. “Absolutely, I feel the same way. This is a cause worth standing up for,” said Williams, who ordered his deputies in Washington County not to issue any licenses at all since the court’s June decision.
The pope, returning home from a 10-day trip to the United States and Cuba on Monday, said government officials had a “human right” to refuse to discharge a duty if they felt it violated their conscience.
The U.S. Supreme Court made same-sex marriages legal across all 50 states last June.
Davis’ attorney, Mat Staver, told CBS News, “The fact that (the pope) met with Kim Davis sends a message that he is…