The Vatican said Friday that Pope Francis' meeting with Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who went to jail for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses, "should not be considered a form of support of her position."
After days of confusion, the Vatican issued a statement Friday clarifying Francis' Sept. 24 meeting with Davis, an Apostolic Christian who has become a focal point in the gay marriage debate in the U.S.
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In a statement, the Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said Francis met with "several dozen" people at the Vatican's embassy just before leaving Washington for New York.
Lombardi said such meetings are due to the pope's "kindness and availability" and that the pope only really had one "audience" with former students and his family members.
"The pope did not enter into the details of the situation of Mrs. Davis and his meeting with her should not be considered a form of support of her position in all of its particular and complex aspects," Lombardi said.
Davis, a Rowan County, Kentucky clerk, spent five days in jail for defying a series of federal court orders to issue same-sex marriage licenses. She said earlier this week that she and her husband met briefly with the pope at the Vatican's nunciature in Washington and that he encouraged her to "stay strong."
The audience sent shockwaves through the U.S. church, prompting questions about whether the pope had been duped into meeting with her and whether he truly knew the details of her case, which has polarized the country.
Initially the Vatican only reluctantly confirmed the meeting but offered no comment.
On Friday, Lombardi issued a fuller statement to "contribute to an objective understanding of what transpired."
Francis did not focus on the debate over same-sex marriage during his visit last week. As he left the country, he told reporters who inquired that he did not know Davis' case in detail, but he defended conscientious objection as a human right.
"It is a right. And if a person does not allow others to be a conscientious objector, he denies a right," Francis said.