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