Kim Davis, the embroiled Kentucky County Clerk, came to the limelight for refusing to issue marriage licenses to homosexual couples following the United States Supreme Court ruling that declared the ban on same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional. She was briefly imprisoned early in September for contempt of court due to her actions, which have now granted her a meeting with the Pope himself.

Supporters and detractors on all sides have been debating whether or not her actions deserved jail time and whether religious liberty should ever be a reason for an elected official to refuse to do his or her job.

Quickly becoming a political talking point, the opinions are seemingly drawn along party lines, withconservatives such as presidential candidatesMikeHuckabee and Ted Cruzsiding with Davis, while democrats have sided most often with her punishment. Libertarians have been straddling the issue, saying that both sets of rights should be respected, and that there should be a better solution than jail time for Davis.

An undeniable meeting

Davis’ lawyer, Matthew D. Starver, revealed that during Pope Francis’ visit to the U.S. this September he met with herat the Vatican embassy in Washington, D.C. on the Thursday of his stay. At first, the Vatican would not confirm or deny the visit where Starver says the pontiff supported Davis’ position on religious freedom.

On Wednesday, September 30, the New York Times reported that Vatican spokesperson Rev. Federico Lombardi announced, "I do not deny that the meeting took place, but I have no other comments to add."

This announcement has sparked a second social media frenzy, with the expected reactions on all sides of the political spectrum, as some detractors of the Pope are calling it a stunt while some Vatican supporters are expressing surprise and disappointment in the announcement, and others yet are supporting the Pope in his choice to meet with her.

The Pope on conscientious objection

Previously, on September 27, during his flight from the U.S. returning to Rome, the Pope answered 11 questions from multiple interviewers in English, Spanish and Italian on a variety of subjects. One of the subjects tacked in the interview, the meeting itself likely unbeknownst to the interviewer Terry Moran of ABC News, was religious freedom.

Specifically, Moran’s questions were asked presumably with Davis’ situation in mind. Moran asked the pontiff if he supported the individual religious liberty of a public, elected official to make choices to not do their duties if there was a crisis of conscience, “for example in issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples?”

Pope Francis replied, “…conscientious objection is a right that is a part of every human right.”

He continued to reiterate that if a person does not allow another to be a conscientious objector, that the person disallowing the objection denies a right. He did also indicate that he cannot know every instance of conscientious objection, and never mentioned his alleged conversation with Davis.

When asked if his views covered government officials as well he replied, “It is a human right and if a government official is a human person, he has that right. It is a human right.”

Casting light on the Pope’s reasoning for giving Davis an audience, and by her claim, supporting her for what she has done and her choices, this information which comes immediately following his U.S. visit places the situation into perspective. Pope Francis was very clear in his Thursday address to Congress that seeing things in black or white, as sinner or righteous is divisive and non-productive in society. In that spirit, it is not difficult to understand his point on conscientious objection, or why he would bless Davis while still accepting people into the church as humans, regardless of sexual orientation.

The spirit of, “Who am I to judge,” seems to be extended to all.

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