Pope Francis says government workers have the right to refuse to issue gay marriage licenses

Pope Francis told reporters on his flight back to Rome from the U.S. today that government workers issuing gay marriage licesnses have a "human right" to refuse to do their duty if it goes against their conscience.

Thus, the pontiff directly injected himself into the Kim Davis controversy – the Kentucky clerk who went to jail because she refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.


Pope Francis said on Monday government officials have a "human right" to refuse to discharge a duty, such as issuing marriage licenses to homosexuals, if they feel it violates their conscience.

Speaking to reporters as he returned home from a 10-day trip to the United States andCuba, Francis also repeated his condemnation of priests who had sexually abused children, saying the victims had been "crushed by evil".

Although the Argentine-born pontiff delved into some of the United States' thorniest political debates during his visit, he never specifically referred to a controversy over same-sex marriages, which the Church firmly opposes.

On the flight back to Rome, he was asked if he supported individuals, including government officials, who refuse to abide by some laws, such as issuing marriage licenses to gays.

"Conscientious objection must enter into every juridical structure because it is a right," Francis said.

Earlier this month a city official in the U.S. state of Kentucky, Kim Davis, went to jail because she refused to issue a marriage license to a gay couple following a Supreme Court decision to make homosexual marriage legal.

Davis's case has taken on national significance in the 2016 presidential campaign, with one Republican contender, Mike Huckabee, holding rallies in favor of Davis, a Apostolic Christian, who has since joined the Republican party.

"I can't have in mind all cases that can exist about conscientious objection but, yes, I can say that conscientious objection is a right that is a part of every human right," he said, speaking in Italian.

"And if someone does not allow others to be a conscientious objector, he denies a right," he added.

That's pretty strong stuff.  He appears to be saying no secular law can interfere with a conscientious objector's deeply held beliefs.  The courts may have a different interpretation, but the spiritual justification of Mrs. Davis's actions has been confirmed.

The pope's visit was supposed to make conservatives uncomfortable.  But this one statement confronts social liberals with some discomfort of their own.  By defining the actions of Mrs. Davis as a conscientious objection against a law she found morally objectionable, the pope has left liberals nowhere to go except to impose their own sense of morality in order to get Mrs. Davis to comply.

And the pope defines that as a "denial" of her rights.

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