(REUTERS) - Pope Francis on Monday (Sept 28) said government officials have a "human right" to refuse to discharge their duties, such as issuing marriage licenses to homosexuals, if they feel it violates their conscience.
On the flight back to Rome, he was asked if he supported individuals, including government officials, who refuse to abide by some laws, such as issuing marriage licenses to gays.
"Conscientious objection must enter into every juridical structure because it is a right, a human right," Francis said.
Earlier this month a city official in the US state of Kentucky, Kim Davis, went to jail because she refused to issue a marriage license to a gay couple following a Supreme Court decision to make homosexual marriage legal.
Davis's case has taken on national significance in the 2016 presidential campaign, with one Republican contender, Mike Huckabee, holding rallies in favor of Davis, a Apostolic Christian, who has since joined the Republican party.
"I can't remember all cases that can exist about conscientious objection. But yes, I can say that conscientious objection is a right and it is part of every human right," he said.