pope-davisCatholic leader met with clerk at center of gay marriage debate

In a stunning development previously unknown to the public, Pope Francis met privately with Rowan County, Ky. Clerk Kim Davis, who was jailed for her refusal to grant marriage licenses to gay couples.

The Vatican confirmed Wednesday the meeting took place during the Pope’s visit to Washington, D.C. last week.

“On Tuesday night, her lawyer, Mathew D. Staver, said in a telephone interview that Ms. Davis and her husband, Joe, were sneaked into the Vatican Embassy by car on Thursday afternoon,” The New York Times reports.

“Francis gave her rosaries and told her to ‘stay strong,’ the lawyer said. The couple met for about 15 minutes with the pope, who was accompanied by security guards, aides and photographers. Mr. Staver said he expected to receive photographs of the meeting from the Vatican soon,” the Times reports.

“I put my hand out and he reached and he grabbed it, and I hugged him and he hugged me,” Davis said. “And he said, ‘Thank you for your courage.’ ”

“I was crying. I had tears coming out of my eyes,” she said. “I’m just a nobody, so it was really humbling to think he would want to meet or know me.”

“Ms. Davis asked the pope to pray for her, which he said he would, and then the pope asked Ms. Davis to pray for him, Mr. Staver said. They spoke in English, he said, and the pope gave the Davises two rosaries. Ms. Davis gave the rosaries to her mother and father, who are Catholics,” the Times reports.

Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi told the Times Wednesday, “I do not deny that the meeting took place, but I have no other comments to add.”

Francis specifically spoke of the Davis controversy and his support of the right of Christians to refuse to grant marriage licenses to gay couples.

“Conscientious objection must enter into every juridical structure because it is a right,” Francis told reporters during his flight back to Rome last week.

“I can’t have in mind all cases that can exist about conscientious objection but, yes, I can say that conscientious objection is a right that is a part of every human right,” he said.  “And if someone does not allow others to be a conscientious objector, he denies a right.”

While Pope Francis has become a left-wing darling for his harsh attacks on capitalism and belief in government action to stop “man-made global warming,” he remains firmly opposed to gay marriage.

“The family is threatened by growing efforts on the part of some to redefine the very institution of marriage, by relativism, by the culture of the ephemeral, by a lack of openness to life. These realities are increasingly under attack from powerful forces, which threaten to disfigure God’s plan for creation,” Francis said during Mass in Manila in January 2015.