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Pope Francis Met With Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis

Kim Davis
Ryland Barton
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Pope Francis met with embattled Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis during his stop in Washington, D.C. last week.

Davis, who garnered global headlines for her refusal to issue same-sex marriage licenses due to her religious beliefs, was in the nation’s capital to speak at the Voter Values Summit, a conservative political rally. Davis was temporarily jailed earlier this month for her defiance and is currently fighting federal court orders to resume issuing the forms.

Davis’ attorney, Mat Staver, said Wednesday that the meeting with the pope lasted less than fifteen minutes and took place last Thursday at the Vatican Embassy in Washington, D.C.

“He held out his hands and he asked Kim Davis to pray for him and she grasped his hands and said she would and asked the pope to pray for her and he said he will and he thanked her for her courage. He told her, this is a quote from Pope Francis, to 'stay strong' and they embraced,” Staver said.

The New York Times reported that Vatican officials initially would not confirm that the meeting occurred, but finally did so on Wednesday afternoon, while refusing to discuss any details.

Kim Davis’ husband Joe was also in attendance. Davistold ABC News Wednesday morning that officials from the Vatican contacted her to set up the meeting. Staver would not confirm who initiated the meeting,

The pope reportedly gave the Davises two rosaries, which Staver said she gave to her parents, who are life-long Catholics.

“No one meets with the pope unless the pope approves of the meeting and is aware of the person with whom he is meeting and background checks are appropriately done,” Staver said.

On the flight back to Rome Sunday, the pope told ABC News that conscientious objection is a human right. When asked if that includes government officials, the pope said "It is a human right and if a government official is a human person, he has that right. It is a human right.”

Davis and her attorneys say they didn’t want to reveal details about the meeting until his U.S. trip ended in order to not distract from the pope’s visit.

Davis is currently being sued by four Rowan County Couples who were denied marriage licenses. She allowed her deputy clerks to resume issuing the forms earlier this month, but has altered them to remove her name and title. The American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing the couples, has asked that Davis be held in contempt for altering the forms.

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives. Email Ryland at rbarton@lpm.org.