Washington: Pope Francis met secretly while in the United States with a Kentucky county clerk who defied a court order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, a media report said on Wednesday, citing her lawyer.
Kim Davis and her husband Joe were sneaked into the Vatican embassy on Thursday and met the pope for about 15 minutes, Davis's lawyer, Mathew Staver, told the The New York Times.
Staver said the meeting was arranged through Vatican officials.
"The pope came to her and held out his hand," Staver said. "He thanked her for her courage and told her, 'Stay strong.'"
Davis landed in jail earlier this month for refusing a federal judge's orders to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, which the US Supreme Court legalised nationwide in June.
She was released five days later after deputy county clerks in her office in Rowan County, Kentucky said they would issue the marriage certificates.
During his visit to the United States last week, Francis spoke out for religious freedom but did not mention Davis by name.
On his flight home, however, he told an American television reporter that while he could not speak about specific cases "conscientious objection is a right that is a part of every human right."