The Slatest

Pope Seemingly Endorses Kim Davis–Style “Conscientious Objection”

Pope Francis speaks aboard a flight that left Philadelphia for Italy on Sept. 27, 2015.

Photo by Tony Gentile/Reuters

Speaking aboard his flight from Philadelphia to Rome, Pope Francis seemed to suggest that officials like Kim Davis should be allowed to refuse to perform government tasks that they believe to be immoral, outlets including NBC report:

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, saying: “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.”

While the pope’s statement is obviously fairly abstract, it does seem to imply in its use of the word “allow” that actions such as Davis’ should not be subject to punishment. (Davis, a Kentucky county clerk, was sent to jail—and may be going back—for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.)