“It is a human right and if a government official is a human person, he has that right,” Francis told reporters during his flight back to Rome from Philadelphia. “It is a human right.”
Francis also said that “conscientious objection is a right.”
“If a person does not allow others to be a conscientious objector, he denies a right,” said Francis.
Francis during the press conference did not specifically reference Rowan County (Ky.) Clerk Kim Davis, who refuses to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples because of her religious beliefs. The pontiff spoke about the issue two days after the Family Research Council honored Davis at its annual Values Voters Summit in D.C.
“It is time that Christians in America began to stand for their faith,” said Family Research Council President Tony Perkins after Davis received her award. “Kim Davis should not be an outlier. Kim Davis should not be something that surprises America.”
Pope discusses family, marriage in the Americas
Francis on Sunday ended his trip to the U.S. and Cuba that culminated with a Mass on Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
The pontiff during his homily said “the alliance between one man and one woman…generates life.” Francis told members of Congress last week that “fundamental relationships” and “the very basis of marriage and the family” are being called into question.
Francis in his speech to the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 25 cited “ideological colonization,” which is a phrase he used earlier this year in the Philippines in an apparent criticism of efforts in support of marriage rights for same-sex couples. The pontiff also referenced “behaviors that are not human” and “unnatural.”