(Photos by Timothy D. Easley/AP and Max Rossi/Reuters)

In a formal statement, the Vatican said Friday that Pope Francis’s meeting with Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis “should not be considered a form of support of her position in all of its particular and complex aspects.”

The statement, issued by the Rev. Federico Lombardi, director of the press office of the Holy See, said it was not a “real audience,” suggesting that she was among a group that gathered to greet him and send him off.

[Read more: Why no one wants to talk about how the Pope Francis-Kim Davis meeting was arranged]

The revelation of a private meeting last week between Pope Francis and Davis, the county clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, had set off a vigorous debate in the United States on Wednesday about what message the popular pontiff may have been trying to send.

As if to answer that question, a press statement said that “the brief meeting between Mrs. Kim Davis and Pope Francis at the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, DC has continued to provoke comments and discussion. In order to contribute to an objective understanding of what transpired I am able to clarify the following points:

“Pope Francis met with several dozen persons who had been invited by the Nunciature to greet him as he prepared to leave Washington for New York City. Such brief greetings occur on all papal visits and are due to the Pope’s characteristic kindness and availability. The only real audience granted by the Pope at the Nunciature was with one of his former students and his family.

“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.”

[Pope Francis-Kim Davis meeting sets off new round of: What does Francis really think?]