Kim Davis lawyer claims Pope Francis met controversial clerk during DC visit

The lawyer for Kentucky clerk Kim Davis, who was briefly jailed earlier this month after refusing to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples, claimed Tuesday that Davis met with Pope Francis during the pontiff's visit to Washington D.C. last week.

There was no immediate confirmation from the Vatican that the meeting took place.

Attorney Mat Staver of the Liberty Counsel said in a statement that Pope Francis met Davis and her husband on September 24 at the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington. On that day, the pope spoke to a joint meeting of Congress before departing for New York later in the afternoon.

The statement did not say who initiated the meeting or how it came to be, though Staver did say that Vatican officials had inquired about Davis' situation while she was in jail. He declined to name them.

Davis was in Washington for the Values Voter Summit, where the Family Research Council, which opposes same-sex marriage, presented her with an award for defying the federal judge.

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    Staver said Francis told Kim Davis in English, "Thank you for your courage" and told her to "stay strong." The pope then allegedly held out his hands and asked Davis to pray for him. Staver said Davis responded, "I will. Please pray for me", to which Francis responded that he would.

    The statement then said the pope gave the couple two rosaries that he had personally blessed. Staver said Kim and Joe Davis would give the rosaries to her parents, both of whom are Catholic.

    Davis has repeatedly refused to grant or authorize marriage licenses for same-sex couples despite the Supreme Court's ruling making same-sex marriage legal nationwide. Davis has said such marriages cannot be reconciled with her Apostolic Christian faith.

    Francis touched on Davis' case during a press conference held aboard the papal plane while returning to Rome from Philadelphia, his last stop on the six-day, three-city U.S. tour.

    Francis said he didn't know the case in detail, but he upheld 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.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.