Hold the phone, people: Pope Francis made a statement about government officials and their refusals to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
The pontiff was asked: “Do you … 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 when issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples?”
He did not refer specifically to Davis in his reply, saying: “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.”
Francis added: “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.’”
Obviously, this line of thinking is not a surprise. You don't get to be the head of a nearly 2000-year-old religious institution by placing civil law over faith. However, this does not mean that Pope Francis is even close to correct when it comes to cases like Kim Davis and other public officials who refuse to treat same-sex couples with basic dignity. An elected position is not a human right; it is a responsibility granted on a person by his or her peers. That responsibility? To follow the laws set down by the government. For a government official, being a conscientious objector is as easy as handing in a two-weeks notice.