Is like Pope Francis appeared to weigh in on the side of anti-gay-marriage clerk, Kim Davis, saying government workers have a “human right” to refuse to carry out a duty if they have a “conscientious objection.”
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While returning from his visit to the U.S., the pontiff told reporters aboard the papal plane on Monday that anyone who prevents others from exercising their religious freedom is denying them a human right.
This may be coming on the heels of the actions of clerk Davis, the Kentucky county clerk, who was jailed for refusing to fulfill her court-ordered duty of issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
The pontiff was asked: “Do you … support those individuals, including government officials, who say they cannot in good conscience, their own personal conscience, abide by some laws or discharge their duties as government officials, for example when issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples?”
He did not refer specifically to Davis in his reply, however, he said:
“I can’t have in mind all the 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. It is a right. And if a person does not allow others to be a conscientious objector, he denies a right.”
Francis added: “Conscientious objection must enter into every juridical structure because it is a right, a human right. Otherwise we would end up in a situation where we select what is a right, saying, ‘this right that has merit, this one does not.'”
Asked if this principle applied to government officials carrying out their duties, 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.”
Francis’ remarks were translated by pool reporters aboard the plane, and were not an official translation.
The pope also said he understands the anger of people abused by clergy, saying: “I pray for them.”
Since he became Pope in April 2013, liberals have hoped Francis would step all the way to the left, hopes that intensified following his recent speeches. He told world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly that they should approach initiatives to end global poverty, correct educational inequality for girls, and preserve our environment with urgency. He heralded a Catholic figure who is as famous for her deviation from piety as she is for her dedication to it later in life.
The media has called him a “liberal icon.” But on issues like birth control and LGBTQ rights, the Pope continues to use language that aligns far more closely with the ideas of American social conservatives.