Pope Fran­cis se­cretly meets the US anti-gay mar­riage county clerk

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

A U.S. county clerk who re­fused in the name of her faith to is­sue mar­riage li­censes to same-sex cou­ples said Wed­nes­day she se­cretly met with Pope Fran­cis dur­ing his U.S. visit and that he urged her to “stay strong.”

Kim Davis, a born-again Chris­tian, told broad­caster ABC she met the pon­tiff on Sept. 24 while he was in Washington af­ter re­ceiv­ing a sur­prise phone call from a Vat­i­can of­fi­cial. “It was re­ally very hum­bling to even think that he would want to, you know, meet me or know me,” Davis said. “Be­fore he left he said, stay strong,” she added.

In Rome, Vat­i­can spokesman Fed­erico Lom­bardi con­firmed the en­counter with the Ken­tucky clerk, but de­clined to com­ment fur­ther.

Davis has be­come a hero­ine to U.S. same-sex mar­riage op­po­nents, af­ter she landed in jail for six days for re­fus­ing to is­sue li­censes for gay mar­riage, which the U.S. Supreme Court le­gal­ized na­tion­wide in June.

She was re­leased af­ter deputy clerks in her of­fice in Rowan County, Ken­tucky, said they would is­sue the cer­tifi­cates.

“I put my hand out and he reached and he grabbed it and I hugged him and he hugged me and he said ‘thank you for your courage,’” Davis said of her en­counter with the pope.

“That was a great en­cour­age­ment just know­ing that the pope is on track, you know, with what we’re do­ing and agree­ing, you know, kind of val­i­dates ev­ery­thing.”

Dur­ing the meet­ing, which oc­curred at the Vat­i­can em­bassy, the pope gave Davis two rosaries, one black and one red, her lawyer Mathew Staver told CNN.

“Kim Davis’ par­ents, her mom and dad, are life­long Catholics. And so she was able to present her mom and dad with these gifts from the pon­tiff,” Staver said.

Dur­ing his visit to Washington, New York and Philadelphia last week, Fran­cis spoke out for re­li­gious free­dom but did not men­tion Davis by name.

On his flight home, how­ever, he told an Amer­i­can re­porter that while he could not speak about spe­cific cases “con­sci­en­tious ob­jec­tion is a right that is a part of ev­ery hu­man right.”

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