Govt. workers have right to refuse gay marriage licenses: pope

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Pope Wraps Up Historic U.S. Visit


Pope Francis said on Monday government officials have a "human right" to refuse to discharge a duty, such as issuing marriage licenses to homosexuals, if they feel it violates their conscience.

Speaking to reporters as he returned home from a 10-day trip to the United States and Cuba, Francis also repeated his condemnation of priests who had sexually abused children, saying the victims had been "crushed by evil".

SEE ALSO: Pope of the people, and the politics, in historic U.S. visit

Although the Argentine-born pontiff delved into some of the United States' thorniest political debates during his visit, he never specifically referred to a controversy over same-sex marriages, which the Church firmly opposes.

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," Francis said.

See more from the pope's visit to the United States:

50 PHOTOS
Pope's visit to the U.S. (Washington DC, New York, Philadelphia)
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Govt. workers have right to refuse gay marriage licenses: pope
Pope Francis reaches out to 5th grader Omodele Ojo, of the Brooklyn borough of New York, as he is greeted while arriving at John F. Kennedy International Airport Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle, Pool)
Pope Francis waves from his car, a Fiat 500, after arriving at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015. The Pope is spending three days in Washington before heading to New York and Philadelphia. This is the Pope's first visit to the United States. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Pope Francis, left, walks with President Barack Obama, right, after arriving at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015. The Pope is spending three days in Washington before heading to New York and Philadelphia. This is the Pope's first visit to the United States. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Pope Francis waves from a Fiat 500 as his motorcade departs from Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015, where President and Mrs. Obama welcomed him. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
President Barack Obama and Pope Francis walk down the Colonnade before meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and Pope Francis wave to the crowd on the South Lawn from the Truman Balcony of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015, during a state arrival ceremony. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
President Barack Obama talks with Pope Francis in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015. (Tony Gentile/Pool Photo via AP)
Pope Francis give the thumbs-up from the popemobile during a parade around the Ellipse near the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
ADDS NAME OF GIRL - Pope Francis reaches to give a blessing to Sophie Cruz, 5, from suburban Los Angeles, during a parade in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015. She also delivered a bright yellow T-shirt and a letter expressing wishes that her mother and father and millions of others who are in the U.S. illegally are allowed to remain in the country. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, Pool)
Seminarians greet Pope Francis, bottom center, as he walks into the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015, before holding a mass to canonize Junipero Serra. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, Pool)
Nuns sit in their pews while waiting for Pope Francis to arrive inside the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015, in Washington. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Pope Francis waves to the crowd from the popemobile during a parade in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015, following a state arrival ceremony at the White House hosted by President Barack Obama. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, Pool)
Pope Francis conducts Mass outside the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015, in Washington. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Pope Francis addresses a joint meeting of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015, making history as the first pontiff to do so. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
The sun begins to rise as people gather on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015, for a chance to see Pope Francis. The pope spoke to the crowd outside from a balcony after his address to a joint meeting of Congress. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Pope Francis listens to applause before addressing a joint meeting of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015, making history as the first pontiff to do so. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Cartrice Haynesworth, center, has a selfie taken with Pope Francis as he walks through the crowd during a visit to Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015. (AP Photo/David Goldman, Pool)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 24: Mark Perez wears a button bearing the image of Pope Francis while waiting for him to arrive for a visit to Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington September 24, 2015, in Washington, DC. The charity serves dinner to about 300 homeless people daily at the site, and it will serve a meal during the pope's visit. (Photo by David Goldman-Pool/Getty Images)
Pope Francis touches the cheek of a young girl as he prepares to depart the Apostolic Nunciature, the Vatican's diplomatic mission in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015, en route to Andrews Air Force Base. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
Pope Francis, accompanied by members of Congress, waves to the crowd from the Speakers Balcony on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015, after addressing a joint meeting of Congress inside. Doug Mills / The New York Times via AP, Pool))
Pope Francis carries his own briefcase up the stairs before boarding his plane before leaving from Andrews Air Force Base, Md., en route to New York, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
A New York City police officer searches nuns outside St. Patrick's Cathedral prior to the arrival of Pope Francis in New York, Thursday Sept. 24, 2015. (Damon Winter/The New York Times via AP, Pool)
Pope Francis engages well-wishers including Gerard Gubatan, of the Brooklyn borough of New York, center left, after arriving at John F. Kennedy International Airport Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle, Pool)
Pope Francisí motorcade moves through New York City streets, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015, on the way to St. Patrickís Cathedral where he will lead an evening prayer service. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, Pool)
Audience members await the entrance of Pope Francis before he leads an evening prayer service at St. Patrick's Cathedral, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015, in New York. (Robert Deutsch/USA Today via AP, Pool)
Faithful cheer as Pope Francis enters St. Patrick's Cathedral to lead an evening prayer service Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Pope Francis waves at the audience while sitting in the head of state chair before addressing the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015 at United Nations headquarters. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Pope Francis addresses the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015 at United Nations headquarters. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Pope Francis places a white rose at the South Pool of the 9/11 Memorial in downtown Manhattan, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Pope Francis, center left, reads during a multi-religious service at the 9/11 Museum, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015 in New York. The Pope is on a two-day visit to New York which includes addressing the United Nations and holding mass at Madison Square Garden before heading to Philadelphia. (Monika Graff/Pool Photo via AP)
Pope Francis visits the 9/11 Museum, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015 in New York. (Susan Watts/New York Daily News via AP, Pool)
NEW YORK, NJ - SEPTEMBER 25: Pope Francis visits Our Lady Queen of Angels School September 25, 2015 in the East Harlem neighborhood of New York City. The pope is in New York on a two-day visit carrying out a number of engagements, including a papal motorcade through Central Park and celebrating Mass in Madison Square Garden. (Photo by Kena Betancur-Pool/Getty Images)
Pope Francis, center, enters Madison Square Garden to celebrate Mass, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015 New York. (Andrew Burton/Pool Photo via AP)
Pope Francis celebrates high Mass at Madison Square Garden, Friday, Sept 25, 2015, in New York. (Alejandra Villa/Newsday via AP, Pool)
A crucifix hangs above member of the clergy who watch as Pope Francis, not shown, celebrates Mass at Madison Square Garden, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015 New York. (Michael Appleton/The New York Times via AP, Pool)
In this photo provided by World Meeting of Families, Pope Francis kisses and blesses Michael Keating, 10, of Elverson, Pa after arriving in Philadelphia and exiting his car when he saw the boy, Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015, at Philadelphia International Airport. Keating has cerebral palsy and is the son of Chuck Keating, director of the Bishop Shanahan High School band that performed at Pope Francis' airport arrival. (Joseph Gidjunis/World Meeting of Families via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
Colleen Feldmann, of Fallsington, Pa., center, and Sister Donna with Missionaries of Charity in India, right, cheer as Pope Francis arrives at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015, in Philadelphia. Francis wraps up his U.S. visit this weekend in Philadelphia, where he speaks in front of Independence Hall and celebrates Mass on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway to close out a big rally on Catholic families. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Pope Francis passes the crowd in his pope mobile on Independence Mall in Philadelphia on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015. The pope spoke at Independence Hall on his first visit to the United States. (AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson, Pool)
Pope Francis makes his way to the World Meeting of Families festival along Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015. (Jewel Samad/Pool Photo via AP)
Pope Francis waves to the crowd from the popemobile during a parade along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway on Saturday, June 26, 2015, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)
Pope Francis waves to the crowd during a parade Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015, in Philadelphia. The pontiff attended a music-and-prayer festival there Saturday night to close out the World Meeting of Families, a Vatican-sponsored conference of more than 18,000 people from around the world. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, Pool)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 26: Pope Francis waves to the crowd gathered on the route to the Festival of Families along Benjamin Franklin Parkway on September 26, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Pope is concluding his U.S. tour by spending two days in Philadelphia, having visited Washington D.C. and New York City. (Photo by Eric Thayer-Pool/Getty Images)
American singer Aretha Franklin sings as Pope Francis and others listen during the World Meeting of Families festival in Philadelphia, Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015. (Tony Gentile/Pool Photo via AP)
Pope Francis greets inmates during his visit to Curran Fromhold Correctional Facility in Philadelphia, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015. (David Maialetti/The Philadelphia Inquirer, Pool)
Pope Francis gestures to inmates next to a wooden chair made for him by inmates during his visit to Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in Philadelphia, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015. (Tony Gentile/Pool Photo via AP)
People gather on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway before the Papal Mass on Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, in Philadelphia. Pope Francis is in Philadelphia for the last leg of his six-day visit to the United States. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)
Pope Francis waves from his popemobile as he heads to celebrate Mass at the conclusion of the World Meeting of Families along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015. (Tony Gentile/Pool Photo via AP)
WYNNEWOOD, PA - SEPTEMBER 27: Pope Francis greets seminarians as he walks the loggia to his address to the Bishops at St. Martin of Tours Chapel at Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary, September 27, 2015 in Wynnewwod, Pennsylvania. After visiting Washington and New York City, Pope Francis concludes his tour of the U.S. with events in Philadelphia on Saturday and Sunday. ((Photo by Tom Gralish-Pool/Getty Images)
Pope Francis waves to the crowd at Philadelphia International Airport in Philadelphia as he departs for Rome on Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015. Pope Francis wrapped up his 10-day trip to Cuba and the United States on Sunday. (AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson, pool)
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Earlier this month a city official in the U.S. 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 have in mind all 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," he said, speaking in Italian.

"And if someone does not allow others to be a conscientious objector, he denies a right," he added.

Francis said conscientious objection had to be respected in legal structures. "Otherwise we would end up in a situation where we select what is a right, saying: 'This right has merit, this one does not.'"

Related: Scenes from the Kim Davis case in Kentucky:

43 PHOTOS
The fight for marriage equality in Kentucky, County Clerk Kim Davis
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Govt. workers have right to refuse gay marriage licenses: pope
MOREHEAD, KY - SEPTEMBER 04: Michael Long (left) and Timothy Long, of Rowan County, raise their hands in front of a crowd of supporters after receiving their legal marriage license at the Rowan County Courthouse September 4, 2015 in Morehead, Kentucky. Kim Davis, an Apostolic Christian and a Rowan County clerk, refused to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples in defiance of a Supreme Court ruling, citing religious objections. Davis was held in contempt of court and placed in Carter County jail on Thursday, September 3rd. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)
MOREHEAD, KY - SEPTEMBER 04: A deputy clerk of the Clerk of Courts office fills out a marriage license for Timothy and Michael Long in the Rowan County Courthouse on Friday, September 4, 2015 in Morehead, Kentucky. Michael and Timothy live in Rowan County Kentucky. Kim Davis, an Apostolic Christian and a Rowan County clerk, refused to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples in defiance of a Supreme Court ruling, citing religious objections. Davis was held in contempt of court and placed in Carter County jail on Thursday, September 3rd. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)
MOREHEAD, KY - SEPTEMBER 14: Shannon (left) and Carmen Wampler-Collins walk out of the Rowan County Courthouse after receiving a legal marriage license from one of the Deputy Clerk of Courts September 14, 2015 in Morehead, Kentucky. Rowan County clerk Kim Davis was jailed for disobeying a judge's order for denying marriage licenses to gay couples on the basis of her religious faith. Today was Davis' first day back to work, after being released from jail last week. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)
MOREHEAD, KY - SEPTEMBER 4: Jesse Cruz receives a hug from a same sex marriage supporter after he and his partner, Robbie Blankenship, received their legal marriage license at the Rowan County Courthouse on September 4, 2015 in Morehead, Kentucky. Blankenship and Cruz, of Columbus, Ohio, went to the Clerk of Courts office this past Wednesday and were denied a marriage license by the Rowan County Clerk of Courts Kim Davis.Davis, an Apostolic Christian and a Rowan County clerk, refused to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples in defiance of a Supreme Court ruling, citing religious objections. Davis was held in contempt of court and placed in Carter County jail on Thursday, September 3rd. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)
MOREHEAD, KY - SEPTEMBER 04: Michael Long and Timothy Long, of Rowan County, kiss in front of a crowd of supporters after receiving their legal marriage license at the Rowan County Courthouse September 4, 2015 in Morehead, Kentucky. Kim Davis, an Apostolic Christian and a Rowan County clerk, refused to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples in defiance of a Supreme Court ruling, citing religious objections. Davis was held in contempt of court and placed in Carter County jail on Thursday, September 3rd. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)
Assistant Rowan County Clerk Brian Mason, left, hands James Yates, and his partner William Smith Jr., their marriage license at the Rowan County Judicial Center in Morehead, Ky., Friday, Sept. 4, 2015. After four attempts, Yates and Smith were finally issued their marriage license. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
James Yates, left, hugs his partner William Smith Jr., after receiving their marriage license at the Rowan County Judicial Center in Morehead, Ky., Friday, Sept. 4, 2015. Deputy clerk Brian Mason issued the license, congratulating the couple and shaking their hands as he smiled. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
This Thursday, Aug. 3, 2015 photo made available by the Carter County Detention Center shows Kim Davis. The Rowan County, Ky. clerk went to jail Thursday for refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, but five of her deputies agreed to comply with the law, ending a two-month standoff. (Carter County Detention Center via AP)
MOREHEAD, KY - SEPTEMBER 2: Robbie Blankenship (L) stands next to his partner of 20 years, Jesse Cruz, of Corpus Christie, Texas, as they speak with Rowan County Clerk of Courts Kim Davis at the County Clerks Office on September 2, 2015 in Morehead, Kentucky. Citing a sincere religious objection, Davis, an Apostolic Christian, has refused to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples in defiance of a Supreme Court ruling. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)
MOREHEAD, KY - SEPTEMBER 2: Kim Davis, the Rowan County Clerk of Courts, listens to Robbie Blankenship and Jesse Cruz as they speak with her at the County Clerks Office on September 2, 2015 in Morehead, Kentucky. Citing a sincere religious objection, Davis, an Apostolic Christian, has refused to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples in defiance of a Supreme Court ruling. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)
MOREHEAD, KY - SEPTEMBER 2: Robbie Blankenship (L) and his partner of 20 years, Jesse Cruz, of Corpus Christie, Texas, leave the Rowan County Clerks Office after being denied a marriage license on September 2, 2015 in Morehead, Kentucky. Citing a sincere religious objection, Kim Davis, the Rowan County Clerk of Courts, who is an Apostolic Christian, has refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in defiance of a Supreme Court ruling. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)
Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, right, talks with David Moore following her office's refusal to issue marriage licenses at the Rowan County Courthouse in Morehead, Ky., Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015. Although her appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was denied, Davis still refuses to issue marriage licenses. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
ASHLAND, KY - SEPTEMBER 3: Same-sex marriage supports demonstrate on the steps of the federal courthouse during Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis's hearing on September 3, 2015 in Ashland, Kentucky. Davis was held in contempt of court today after refusing a court order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)
MOREHEAD, KY - SEPTEMBER 04: A same sex marriage supporter wears badges on the back of her back pack during a protest in front of the Rowan County Courthouse September 4, 2015 in Morehead, Kentucky. Kim Davis, an Apostolic Christian and a Rowan County clerk, refused to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples in defiance of a Supreme Court ruling, citing religious objections. Davis was held in contempt of court and placed in Carter County jail on Thursday, September 3rd. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)
Jonathan Beebe-Franqui, left, and his husband Dwayne D. Beebe-Franqui embrace as they wait for the arrival of Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis at the Carl D. Perkins Federal Building in Ashland, Ky., Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015. Davis has been ordered to appear in Federal Court to explain why she is refusing to issue marriage licenses despite a federal order to do so. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, foreground left, is greeted as she arrives for work at the Rowan County Courthouse in Morehead, Ky., Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015. Davis' appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was turned down on Monday, and now she is under federal orders to begin issuing marriage licenses. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis listens to a customer following her office's refusal to issue marriage licenses at the Rowan County Courthouse in Morehead, Ky., Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015. Although her appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was denied, Davis still refuses to issue marriage licenses. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
David Miller, right, talks with Rowan County Sheriffs Deputy Joe Cline about the possibility of Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis being arrested for contempt at the Rowan County Courthouse in Morehead, Ky., Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015. Although her appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was denied, Davis still refuses to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
A sign and sign-in sheet is placed at the door of the Rowan County Courthouse in Morehead, Ky., Saturday, Aug. 29, 2015. Although normally open on the last Saturday of the month, Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis decided not to open the office due to a rally being held on the lawn. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
Karen Roberts, left, and her partner, April Miller, speak to Assistant Rowan County Clerk Kim Russell as they attempt to get a marriage license at the Rowan County Courthouse in Morehead, Ky., Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015. Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis has refused to issue marriage licenses in defiance of a federal order. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
William Smith Jr., right, and his partner James Yates, second right, speak with an unnamed clerk in an attempt to obtain a marriage license at the Rowan County Courthouse in Morehead, Ky., Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015. The couple were denied despite the ruling of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upholding an earlier decision instructing the clerks to issue marriage licenses. This was the couple's third attempt. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
Rowan County Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis speaks to a gathering of supporters during a rally on the steps of the Kentucky State Capitol in Frankfort Ky., Saturday, Aug. 22, 2015. Davis spoke at the rally organized by The Family Foundation of Kentucky on Saturday afternoon. The crowd of a few thousand included churchgoers from around the state. Davis has been sued by The American Civil Liberties Union for denying marriage licenses to gay couples. She says her Christian faith prohibits her from signing licenses for same-sex couples. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
A protester attempts to lead the crowd in a cheer during a protest on the lawn of the Rowan County Courthouse in Morehead, Ky., Saturday, Aug. 29, 2015. Approximately a hundred people gathered to protest Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis failing to issue marriage licenses. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
Penny Stennitt, of Mt. Sterling Ky., cheers in support during a Religious Freedoms Rally at the Kentucky State Capitol in Frankfort Ky., Saturday, Aug. 22, 2015. Three Kentucky county clerks who are refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples drew thunderous cheers from the crowd gathered at the state capitol. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
April Miller, right, and her partner Karen Roberts embrace after reading the decision of the United States Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals refusing to hear Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis' appeal ordering her to issue marriage licenses because of her religious beliefs in Morehead, Ky., Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis smilesas she helps a customer at the Rowan County Courthouse in Morehead, Ky., Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015. Davis is back at work and still not issuing marriage licenses while her case is under appeal. U.S. District Judge David Bunning denied Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis' request to delay his ruling from last week ordering her to issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples. That ruling followed the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in June legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide. But Bunning then delayed his own decision, effectively granting Davis' request while also denying it. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
David Ermold, right, attempts to hand Rowan County clerks Nathan Davis, left, and Roberta Earley, second from left, a copy of the ruling from U.S. District Court Judge David Bunning, instructing the county to start issuing marriage licenses, in Morehead, Ky., Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015. Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis has refused the order and has filed an appeal. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
James Yates, left, and William Smith Jr. speak with Rowan County Judge Executive Walter Blevins, right, in an attempt to obtain a marriage license in Morehead, Ky., Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015. In a decision Wednesday, U.S. District Judge David L. Bunning ordered Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis to issue marriage licenses, but she has refused after filing an appeal the ruling to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
Karen Roberts, center, and her partner April Miller speak with Rowan County Clerk Kim Russell in an attempt to obtain a marriage license at the Rowan County courthouse in Morehead, Ky., Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015. Miller and Roberts, two of the original plaintiffs in the federal suit against Rowan County, Ky., and Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis were at the courthouse to obtain a marriage license. The clerk's office rejected the couples' bid for licenses just hours after U.S. District Judge David L. Bunning ordered Davis to comply with the Supreme Court's ruling. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
As his partner, David Ermold, right, looks on, David Moore calls Rowan County Judge Executive Walter Blevins in an attempt to obtain a marriage license at the Rowan County Courthouse in Morehead, Ky., Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015. In a decision on Wednesday, U.S. District Judge David L. Bunning ordered Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis to issue marriage licenses, but she has refused after filing an appeal the ruling to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
James Yates, left, and William Smith Jr. wait in line at the Rowan County Clerks Office to obtain a marriage license in Morehead, Ky., Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015. In a decision on Wednesday, U.S. District Judge David L. Bunning ordered Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis to issue marriage licenses to all couples, but she has refused after filing an appeal to the ruling to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
David Ermold, right, is hugged by Taral Thompson following the refusal of the Rowan County clerk's office to issue a marriage license to he and his partner, in defiance of a federal judge's decision in Morehead, Ky., Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015. Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis has already filed a notice of appeal and plans to request a stay on the ruling. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
April Miller, right, looks on as her partner Karen Roberts as she addresses the media outside the Rowan County courthouse in Morehead, Ky., Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015. Miller and Roberts, two of the original plaintiffs in the federal suit against Rowan County, Ky., and Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis were at the courthouse to apply for their marriage license following U.S. District Judge David Bunning's decision Wednesday ordering Davis to begin issuing marriage licenses. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
Rowan County clerk Nathan Davis, right, informs David Moore that the clerk's office will not be issuing any marriage licenses, in defiance of an order from a federal judge in Morehead, Ky., Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015. Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis has already filed a notice of appeal and plans to request a stay on the ruling. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, right, walks with her attorney Roger Gannam into the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky in Covington, Ky., Monday, July 20, 2015. Davis, who has said she cannot issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples because it would violate her religious beliefs, is being sued by the American Civil Liberties Union on the behalf of two gay couples and two straight couples. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
Casey County Clerk Casey Davis, right, speaks with a supporter in front of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky in Covington, Ky., Monday, July 20, 2015. Davis is one of the clerks in Kentucky that has refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, in defiance of an order from the governor. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
Casey County Clerk Casey Davis speaks with reporters on the steps of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky in Covington, Ky., Monday, July 20, 2015. Davis is one of the clerks in Kentucky that has refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, in defiance of an order from the governor. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
Supporters of Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis line the wall in front of the United States Federal Courthouse in Covington, Ky., Monday, July 20, 2015. Davis, who has said she cannot issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples because it would violate her religious beliefs, is being sued by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of two gay couples and two straight couples. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, right, listens as her attorney Roger Gannam addresses the media on the steps of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky in Covington, Ky., Monday, July 20, 2015. Davis, who has said she cannot issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples because it would violate her religious beliefs, is being sued by the American Civil Liberties Union on the behalf of two gay couples and two straight couples. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
Quincy Swain, left, and Dallas Black protest Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis outside the United States Federal Courthouse in Covington, Ky., Monday, July 20, 2015. Davis, who has said she cannot issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples because it would violate her religious beliefs, is being sued by the American Civil Liberties Union on the behalf of two gay couples and two straight couples. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
Attorney Roger Gannam, center, lead counsel for Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, talks to the media Monday July 13, 2015, at the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky in Ashland, Ky. The U.S. Supreme Court decided June 26 states cannot prohibit issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, but Davis has refused citing religious beliefs. (AP Photo/John Flavell)
Tom Lowe, left, and James Perkins, with sign, show their support for Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis Monday, July 13, 2015, at the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky in Ashland, Ky. A federal judge is hearing arguments Monday about Davis, one of a hand full of local officials across the country who are refusing to issue any marriage licenses after the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling legalizing same-sex marriage. The U.S. Supreme Court decided June 26 states cannot prohibit issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, but Davis has refused citing her religious beliefs. (AP Photo/John Flavell)
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PRIESTLY BETRAYAL

In the hour-long, freewheeling talk that has become a trademark of his papacy, the pope returned to the problem of priestly abuse. On Sunday, he met five victims of sexual abuse and issued his most comprehensive condemnation of the crime.

On the plane, Francis said sexual abuse was not confined to the Church but it was worse when committed by men of religion.

"We know abuses are everywhere, in families, in the neighborhoods, in the schools, in the gyms, but when a priest abuses it is very grave because the vocation of the priest is to make that boy, that girl grow towards the love of God, toward maturity," he said.

"But instead (the victim) is crushed by evil and this is nearly a sacrilege because the priest has betrayed his vocation, the calling of the Lord," the pope said.

The pope had been fiercely criticized by abuse victims on Wednesday, after he initially addressed the scandal but did not utter the words "sexual abuse", and praised American bishops for their handling of the crisis.

Asked about barriers being but up in Europe to stop the influx of migrants, the pope said: "All walls collapse, today, tomorrow or after 100 years, but they will collapse. Walls are not a solution."

He said that while it was true that Europe was struggling in the face of a refugee crisis, the solution had to be found through dialogue. "Barriers last a short time or a long time, but the problem remains and with it, more hatred."

A reporter said the pope had become a "star" in the United States following his visit to Washington, New York and Philadelphia, and asked if this was good for the Church.

"The media uses this term, but there is another truth - how many stars have we seen go out and fall. It is a fleeting thing. Instead being a 'servant of the servants of God' does not pass," the pope said, referring to one of the titles of his office.

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