Pope Francis takes sides in Culture War, endorses same-sex civil unions

by WorldTribune Staff, October 22, 2020

Pope Francis has endorsed civil unions for same-sex couples.

“Homosexuals have a right to be a part of the family. They’re children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out, or be made miserable because of it,” the pope says in a new documentary film, “Francesco”, which premiered at the Rome Film Festival on Wednesday, the Catholic News Agency reported.

Pope Francis

“What we have to create is a civil-union law. That way they are legally covered,” the pope said, according to the report. “I stood up for that.”

Since the pope’s comments weren’t delivered in a sermon or a Vatican document, they don’t constitute official papal teaching.

Vatican correspondent Francis X. Rocca noted in an Oct. 21 analysis for the Wall Street Journal that “the pope’s words, though not part of his official teaching, will likely put pressure on Catholic bishops in the developing world to tolerate legal recognition of same-sex unions and oppose anti-homosexuality laws.”

Rocca added: “In Europe, North America and other Western countries, too, it is expected to have an impact on the cultural wars over sexuality within the church and beyond.”

While endorsing same-sex unions, the pope has rejected the possibility of same-sex marriage. In a 2016 document, he wrote that “there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family.”

When the pope was archbishop of Buenos Aires as Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, he described same-sex marriage as an “anthropological regression.”

But in a 2014 interview, about a year after his election as pope, Francis suggested that the Catholic Church could tolerate some form of civil unions for same-sex couples.

“Matrimony is between a man and a woman,” the pope said, but moves to “regulate diverse situations of cohabitation [are] driven by the need to regulate economic aspects among persons, as for instance to assure medical care.” Asked how the church should respond, he replied: “It is necessary to look at the diverse cases and evaluate them in their variety.”

During his time as archbishop, the future pope supported civil unions as an alternative to same-sex marriage, according to his biographer Austen Ivereigh. Argentina legalized same-sex marriage in 2010.

The Vatican’s position on civil unions has until now been set forth in a 2003 document by the doctrinal office, then led by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI. According to that document, “respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behavior or to legal recognition of homosexual unions.”

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