The Vatican said Pope Francis was “manipulated” in his meeting with Kim Davis, the US official who was sent to jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples in Kentucky.
The alleged meeting was interpreted as a resounding endorsement by the Pope of the county clerk’s opposition to same-sex unions.
The Holy See strongly disputed that account, saying that she was one of “dozens” of people the Pope met at the Vatican’s embassy in Washington.
The encounter with Mrs Davis, who is not a Catholic but a member of an Apostolic church, was “a very brief moment”, he said.
Rev Federico Lombardi, the chief Vatican spokesman, also denied that the brief encounter was an endorsement by the Pope of Mrs Davis’ stance.