Pope Francis on Monday told reporters that government workers have a “human right” to refuse to participate in a duty if they feel doing so would violate their conscience.

On his flight back to Rome from a 10-day visit to the United States and Cuba, Francis was asked his thoughts on individuals who refuse to abide by some laws, such as government officials who object to issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples.

“Conscientious objection must enter into every juridical structure because it is a right,” Francis is quoted as answering by Reuters.

“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 in Italian.

A current case involves Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis, who spent five days in jail for refusing to comply with the Supreme Court's summer ruling striking down gay marriage bans in all 50 states.

Davis, an Apostolic Christian who recently joined the Republican party, over the weekend received an award for her actions.

(Related: Kim Davis honored at FRC's Values Voter Summit.)

Russell Roybal, deputy executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force, said in a statement that he was disappointed with the pope's message.

“As a Catholic, it's very disappointing that Pope Francis doesn't seem to understand that politicians and government officials using religion as an excuse to impose their prejudices on the public is profoundly wrong,” he said. “That's why we separate church and state in the United States. … Our faith should liberate – not discriminate. Religious liberty is a cherished right but government officials should not be allowed to cherry pick the laws they want to follow and the ones they want to ignore.”