In Press Conference, Pope Francis Makes Support for Civil Unions Absolutely Clear

Pope Francis has reiterated his support for same-gender civil unions in very clear terms. He did so just days after attending a screening of last year’s controversial documentary in which he appeared to make such support known, too.

Speaking with reporters on his return flight from a papal visit to Slovakia and Hungary, Pope Francis was asked about his references to family during the trip in light of a current European Parliament resolution in support of marriage equality. Crux reported on the how the Francis answered the question:

“The pope said the Catholic Church ‘doesn’t have the power to change a sacrament as it was instituted by the Lord’, but he supported civil laws that try to help ‘those who have a diverse sexual orientation,’ because ‘it’s important to help these people, but without giving something that, due to its nature, the Church cannot give.’

“‘But if a homosexual couple wants to lead a life together, the State has the possibility to give them safety, stability, inheritance; and not only to homosexuals but to all the people who want to associate. But marriage is a marriage.’

“‘This does not mean that they have to be condemned; No please, they are our brothers and sisters,’ Francis continued. ‘But marriage is a sacrament, and as such, no. This is clear. But a civil law that helps also, for instance, two widows who want to associate for civil law to protect them, that’s fine.'”

“The sacrament of marriage, he insisted, is between a man and a woman, and ‘sometimes what I say seeds confusion, because we are all equal. The Lord is good, and wants for all of us to be saved, but please, don’t make the Church deny the truth.'”

In related news, last week Francis attended a screening at the Vatican of the documentary Francesco. This film, released last October, made headlines after it seemingly showed the pope supporting civil unions. Bondings 2.0 readers will recall there was much debate over how the film was edited, the way Vatican officials responded, and whether Francis truly supported civil unions. Now, according to Crux, the pope’s attendance at the official screening with roughly 100 people, including many migrants and some recent refugees from Afghanistan, appears “to give the film his stamp of approval.”

Coupled together, these developments prove it is now incontrovertibly clear that Pope Francis supports civil unions for same-gender couples. LGBTQ advocates can heartily celebrate this positive development on civil unions that before this current pope would have seemed unimaginable, even if his words on marriage reinforce there is still work to be done. But for a church that moves not in decades, but in centuries, it took just eighteen years for the church to move from harshly condemning civil unions in 2003 to clear papal support for same-gender couples’ legal protections in 2021.

Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, September 16, 2021

9 replies
  1. Robert R. Hare
    Robert R. Hare says:

    What is a sacrament? In the days after Vatican II I recall that many persons and things were called “sacraments”. “I am a sacrament”, “you are a sacrament” and more. This followed the euphoria after the Council and in my mind was rooted in that old catechism definition of a sacrament as an outward sign instituted by Christ to give grace. I have one more thought on civil unions and “sacrament” from that old Baltimore Catechism. It’s this and the question was about the usual minister of a sacrament. If I remember correctly the answer for the usual minister(s) of the sacrament of marriage, the answer was; “the two people getting married”. The two spouses were the ministers of the sacrament. The priest was only there as an official witness for the church.

    • Frankie A
      Frankie A says:

      You remember correctly, Robert. The sacrament of marriage is indeed ministered by each of the individuals “getting” married. The priest is irrelevant, which is why the whole idea of the church proclaiming whether or not it “approves” or “sanctions” or “recognizes” same gender marriages is totally irrelevant, as it has become in so many other areas of the lives of the people.

  2. Tom Bower
    Tom Bower says:

    Not one to challenge the Pope, but marriage was not instituted or created by Christ or God. A ceremony was written by the Church, but it was a mistake to call it a sacrament. Priests still need to be registered by the state to be recognized as marriage ministers. It is purely a human construct to govern property rights. If individuals want to commit to one another that is fine and good, but it is they who institute the activity. Now the Pope needs to call off his bishops who fight the civil marriage activity of same sex individuals.

  3. Patricia Fowlie
    Patricia Fowlie says:

    Pope Francis inspires me to be a better Christian. His predecessor made me feel like a naughty child (so with some resentment.) The big noise from USA – which differs from Europe – is almost schismatic, sedevacantist. Stick with Papa F – he’s best friend we’re likely to get.


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