Pope says same-sex couples should be covered by civil union laws

Elias Hubbard
October 22, 2020

LGBTQ Catholics and their allies in the US welcomed Pope Francis' endorsement of same-sex civil unions, the first time he's done so as pontiff, while some prominent members including a bishop said Wednesday that he was blatantly contradicting church teaching.

News reports he made the comments in the new documentary - Francesco which is about the life and work of Pope Francis.

It premiered as part of the Rome Film Festival.

The Pope said, "Homosexual people have a right to be family; they are children of God. They are children of God", Francis says in the film. In my opinion this is contrary to divine law which explicitly permits only the union of man and woman or of opposite sexes of male or female, whatever that union is: "civil, legal or sacramental", he said in an interview Thursday.

Francis vehemently opposed same-sex marriage, but also signaled an early openness to civil unions or similar paths to legal status for same-sex couples, according to the Religion News Service and other accounts.

This is the first time a pope has ever explicitly supported this action, though he did not say the church would perform same-sex marriages.

But some Catholic officials say it "contradicts" the teachings of the Church. This could signal a cultural shift for many people who live in those countries.

As a Catholic, I'm pleased Pope Francis is pushing the Church into the 21st Century.

As recently as 2018, Pope Francis was also expressing concerns over what he termed "fashionable" homosexuality, while saying that he would not welcome gay priests in the Catholic Church.

In 2003, the Vatican's office on doctrine - under the leadership of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI - taught that "respect for homosexual persons can not lead in any way to approval of homosexual behavior or to legal recognition of homosexual unions".

Francis noted he has stood up for civil unions before, but his remarks in the documentary go beyond what he has said previously and sharply diverge from the view of his predecessors.

"As a survivor of conversion therapy twice, I can tell you God doesn't do anything to change it", De Voe said.

"The word I use is "welcome", Tobin told the New York Times after the visit.

Francis, the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, was fervently opposed to gay marriage when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires. "That's the most serious problem I think".

Nor does the documentary shy away from describing the struggles faced by Pope Francis, from his role in Argentina's "dirty war" to his behavior toward victims of clerical sexual abuse in Chile.

The Vatican publicized that encounter, making video and photos of it available, after Francis was ambushed during that same visit by his then-ambassador, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, who invited the Kentucky anti-gay marriage activist Kim Davis to meet with the pope.

"Since the beginning of the pontificate the Pope has spoken of respect for homosexuals and has been against their discrimination", Vatican expert Vania de Luca told RaiNews.

In "A Future of Faith: The Path of Change in Politics and Society", a book-length series of conversations with the French sociologist Dominque Wolton, the two spoke about gay marriage and civil unions in the context of a discussion about tradition, modernity and truth.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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