Pope Francis weighed in on the same-sex marriage controversy when he said that workers have a “human right” to refuse to issue licenses if the duty goes against their “conscientious objection.”
The remarks were made by Pope Francis on board the Alitalia charter flight that was taking the Holy Father back to the Vatican, after a whirlwind visit to the U.S. this past week, according to NBC News. Kentucky anti-gay marriage worker Kim Davis was jailed for refusing to issue licenses to couples seeking to get married and disobeying a Supreme Court ruling.
The incident sparked passionate controversy on both sides of the hot-button topic, but Pope Francis seemed to side with Davis on the same-sex marriage issue with his remarks.
A reporter asked Pope Francis about same-sex marriage as it concerns people, including government officials, who say they cannot in good conscience or their own personal conscience abide by some laws or discharge their duties as government officials.
While Pope Francis did not specifically mention Davis in his response about same-sex marriage, many are taking his answer to be a direct comment on the recent dispute in Kentucky.
“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.
“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.'”
Pressed further and asked to clarify whether his opinion includes government officials performing duties they have sworn to carry out, Pope Francis insisted it is a human right, and if the person is a human being, then he or she has that right. It is a human right, the pope repeated.
The Catholic Church does not recognize same-sex marriage, however, Pope Francis has been widely praised for trying to include gays. At the same time, the Pontiff’s efforts have been less than enthusiastically received by the more traditional factions of the church.
In addition to his remarks about same-sex marriage, Pope Francis spoke to reporters about women in the Catholic Church and the possibility that female priests will ever be allowed. The pope said this cannot be done and explained that the issue had already been examined in “long, long intense discussions” by Pope and Saint John Paul II.
Pope Francis praised the role of women in the church, saying they are more important than men, and it is not that they don’t have the skills and capacity to become priests. He added that Catholics have to move ahead in the theology of women.
“Yes, that’s true.” Pope Francis added.
As to the Pontiff’s remarks on same-sex marriage, Kim Davis’ supporters are already considering Pope Francis’ comments as an endorsement of the embattled state worker. In 2013, Pope Francis shook the Catholic Church and earned the admiration of non-believers when he said, if someone is gay and is searching God with good will, “Who am I to judge?”
These controversial comments were unheard of from any previous leader of the traditional religious institution and were in stark contrast of predecessor Pope Benedict XVI’s remarks, in which he referred to gay marriage as a threat to global peace.
What do you think of Pope Francis’ comments on same-sex marriage and workers rights?
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