Pope Francis‘ recent private meeting with Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who went to jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, was not a show of support, the Vatican said.
“The Pope did not enter into the details of the situation of Mrs. Davis and his meeting with her should not be considered a form of support of her position in all of its particular and complex aspects,” Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi said in a Friday statement to the New York Times.
Vatican officials confirmed the meeting to the Times, but would not give any details.
The Vatican press office previously told PEOPLE that they would neither confirm nor deny that the meeting occurred and added that no further comment would be issued.
However, the Vatican shifted course on Friday, issuing the statement to “contribute an objective understanding of what transpired.”
Lombardi said that the pope met with and greeted dozens of people at the Vatican’s embassy that day just before leaving for New York City and such brief meetings – like the one with Davis – are standard for papal visits. He said such meetings “are due to the Pope’s characteristic kindness and availability.”
“The only real audience granted by the Pope at the Nunciature [the Vatican’s equivalent of an embassy] was with one of his former students and his family,” Lombardi said.
Davis previously told ABC News that she met with the pontiff after receiving a phone call from a Vatican spokesperson. The clerk said that the pope told her to “stay strong” during the meeting and gave her a rosary.
Both she and her supporters claimed in the days following the meeting that the pontiff, who repeatedly called for the preservation of religious freedom, supported her decision to refuse marriage licenses to same-sex couples despite the supreme court’s ruling in favor of marriage equality.
“That was a great encouragement, just knowing that the pope is on track with what we’re doing, and agreeing, it kinda validates everything,” Davis, whose parents are Catholic but herself belongs to the Oneness Pentecostal church, told ABC.