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
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.
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.”