Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said he would not deny that the meeting took place but declined further comment. The pope was in Washington for most of Thursday, flying to New York later in the day. Davis, the clerk of courts for Rowan County, and her husband, Joe Davis, met the pope at the Vatican Embassy in Washington, lawyer Mat Staver told USA TODAY.
Davis made national news after refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, claiming it would have conflicted with her Christian beliefs. She spent five nights in jail and was allowed to return to work when she agreed not to interfere with the issuance of licenses. Davis said in a news release that she was humbled by the meeting.
“I never thought I would meet the pope,” she said. “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. Pope Francis was kind, genuinely caring and very personable.”
Francis touched on the issue during a press conference as he flew back to Rome on Sunday, the Associated Press reported. He told reporters that he wasn’t familiar with details of the case but called conscientious objection a human right, even for government officials.
Mike Huckabee, a former governor of Arkansas now seeking the GOP presidential nominee, tweeted that the pope appreciated that Davis “followed her conscience & convictions.”
Huckabee also tweeted: “While the media elites were slobbering b/c @Pontifexcommented on climate change, he held a quiet & powerful meeting w/ a humble KY clerk.”
The Vatican reached out to Davis through other parties who contacted Staver, the lawyer said. Staver said he was there when a car picked up the Davises to take them to the embassy. The couple was at the embassy for two hours, but the actual visit with the pope lasted 15 minutes, Staver said.
“He held out his hands and he asked Kim to pray,” Staver said. “He thanked her for her courage. He said these words, ‘Stay strong,’ and they embraced and hugged.”
The pope spoke in English during the meeting, Staver said.
The pontiff also gave Davis two rosaries that he personally blessed, according to Staver. “Kim’s mother and father are both lifelong Catholics so Kim will present those rosaries to them,” he said.
Afterward, Davis was “overwhelmed,” Staver said.
“She was amazed that she was able to meet with Pope Francis,” the lawyer said. “She never imagined in her life that she would meet with the pope and that itself was just an experience that she will never forget.”
The meeting “sends a worldwide message that the pope stands on the side of religious freedom,” Staver said.
Good Idea! Lets encourage this nutcase some more.