Aboard the papal plane on its way back to Rome from the United States, Pope Francis made it clear he emphatically supports the current battle for religious freedom over same-sex marriage, going as far to say that a "conscientious objector" like Kim Davis has a fundamental right to dissent.
Speaking with Terry Moran of ABC News, the Roman Pontiff made no room for the secular notion of placing faith aside for the sake of order, and even emphasized that government officials have a right to conscientious objection every bit as much as the citizenry. See transcript below:
Terry Moran, ABC News:
Holy Father, thank you, thank you very much and thank you to the Vatican staff as well. Holy Father, you visited the Little Sisters of the Poor and we were told that you wanted to show your support for them and their case in the courts. And, Holy Father, do you also support those individuals, including government officials, who say they cannot in good conscience, their own personal conscience, abide by some laws or discharge their duties as government officials, for example in issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples. Do you support those kinds of claims of religious liberty?
I can’t have in mind all cases that can exist about conscience objection. But, yes, I can say the 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.' It (conscientious objection) is a human right. It always moved me when I read, and I read it many times, when I read the “Chanson de Roland” when the people were all in line and before them was the baptismal font and they had to choose between the baptismal font or the sword. They had to choose. They weren’t permitted conscientious objection. It is a right and if we want to make peace we have to respect all rights.
Terry Moran, ABC News:
Would that include government officials as well?
It is a human right and if a government official is a human person, he has that right. It is a human right.
Throughout his entire stay in the United States, the Holy Father consistently returned to the subject of religious freedom, from his opening speech at the White House to his visit with the Little Sisters of the Poor to his Congressional address.
Speaking at the World Meeting of Families Saturday, Pope Francis stood before Independence Hall and proclaimed the following about our 1st Amendment right:
It is a fundamental right which shapes the way we interact socially and personally with our neighbors whose religious views differ from our own. Religious freedom certainly means the right to worship God, individually and in community, as our consciences dictate. But religious liberty, by its nature, transcends places of worship and the private sphere of individuals and families. Religious freedom isn't a subculture, it's a part of every people and nation.
In the same speech, Pope Francis reminded his audience to avoid all attempts by "modern tyranny" to mold people into a "superficial unity" where religion gets pushed into a "subculture without right to a voice in the public square."