Vatican: Kim Davis meeting was not endorsement

The Vatican is now saying that the private meeting that Pope Francis had with the Kentucky clerk who has refused to issue gay marriage licenses was "not considered a form of support for her position".

The pope met with Kim Davis in Washington, D.C. last week.

Davis said she grasped the pope's outstretched hand during the short meeting, and he told her to "stay strong."

The Vatican initially would only confirm the meeting took place but has slowly released further comment.

Davis' attorney is disputing the Vatican's description of the meeting.

Mat Staver told The Associated Press early Friday that the meeting was an affirmation of the Kentucky county clerk's right to be conscientious objector.

He says Vatican personnel initiated contact with Davis' camp on Sept. 14 saying the pope wanted to meet her. He says Vatican security picked up her and her husband up from their Washington hotel and brought her to the Vatican embassy. He says Vatican officials told her to change her hairstyle so she wouldn't be recognized since they wanted the encounter kept secret.

Staver disputed a Vatican spokesman's claims that the pope only met with Davis in a receiving line. He said the couple was in a room with only the pope and Vatican personnel.

Davis refused to issue any marriage licenses in Rowan County, Kentucky, rather than comply with the Supreme Court ruling that effectively legalized gay marriage nationwide. She served five days in jail rather than resign. Some of her deputies now issue licenses without her authority, and she claims they are invalid.

"Just knowing that the pope is on track with what we're doing and agreeing, you know, it kind of validates everything," Davis told ABC News.

But Vatican observers say that's reading too much into the visit.

"You can't take his presence with somebody as his affirmation of everything that they stand for," said Cathleen Kaveny, a theologian and legal scholar at Boston College. "He thanked her for her courage and told her to stay strong. That's a commitment to her voice in the conversation. I don't think it's necessarily commitment to her policy views."

With the Associated Press