The Vatican says Pope Francis' U.S. meeting with Kim Davis, a Kentucky county official jailed for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses, should not be construed as an expression of support for her position.
The Holy See issued a statement Friday, saying the pope met with "several dozen persons" during his visit to the Vatican embassy in Washington, D.C., last week. It said such meetings are granted because of the pope's "characteristic kindness and availability."
"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," the statement said.
It also said the only real audience the pope granted during his time at the embassy was with one of his former students. The student later identified himself as Yayo Grassi, an openly gay Argentine who met the pope with his longtime partner and some friends, and the Vatican confirmed Grassi's identity.
The Vatican confirmed Wednesday that Francis met with Kim Davis last week.
Davis, the elected clerk in Rowan County, Kentucky, told ABC News that Pope Francis presented her and her husband with two rosaries, thanked her for her courage and urged her to "stay strong."
Defying judge's order
Davis was jailed for six days in September for defying a federal judge's order to issue the marriage licenses, Citing her Christian beliefs, she refused to issue marriage licenses to either straight or gay couples, despite the U.S. Supreme Court's June ruling that legalized same-sex marriage across the United States.
She was in the nation's capital to receive an award from the Family Research Council, a prominent conservative group, for defying the federal judge's order.
Monday, during his return trip to Rome after his U.S. visit, Pope Francis was asked specifically about Davis' case. The pontiff responded that conscientious objection is a right that belongs to everyone.
Some information for this report came from AP.