Not news: Pope Francis has supported civil unions for years – NCR

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

In the wake of the documentary ‘Francesco’ by Evgeny Afineevsky, a not-so-new ‘news’ story reared its head:  Pope Francis’ stance on same-sex civil unions. While this was reported as a ‘novelty’ a number of Catholic news websites noted that this has been the position of the pontiff for a very long time. Francis also spoke of the subject at least two times since he became Pope.

The left-wing National Catholic Reporter heading with the title: “Not news: Pope Francis has supported civil unions for years.” The authoritative English news website The Tablet reported the following heading: “Pope Francis Has History of Defending Marriage, but Being Open to Some Civil Unions”.

References while Pope

During his pontificate, Francis addressed the subject in at least two occasions.

The French sociologist Dominque Wolton had published “A Future of Faith: The Path of Change in Politics and Society,” which was a book-length series of conversations the Pope.

“‘Marriage’ is a historical word,” the pope said, in the book published in 2017. “Forever, throughout humanity and not only in the church, it’s been between a man and a woman. You can’t change it just like that. It’s the nature of things. That’s how they are. So, let’s call them ‘civil unions.’”

In a 2014 the Pope was interviewed by Corriere della Sera. In answer to the paper’s questions about the legalisation of gay marriage or adoption of civil union laws the Pope said:

“Marriage is between a man and a woman,” he said. “Secular states want to validate civil unions to regulate different situations of cohabitation, driven by the need to regulate economic aspects between people, such as ensuring health care. These are cohabitation pacts of various kinds, of which I could not list the different forms.”

“It is necessary to see the different cases and evaluate them in their variety,” he said. This was considered by The Tablet and others as an implication that some forms of civil unions would be acceptable.

For civil unions since cardinal in Buenos Aires

Several Catholic websites noted when the Pope Francis was cardinal in Buenos Aires, he supported civil union of gay persons as a legal way of preventing discrimination while objecting to the introduction of gay marriage which he considered to be “an anthropological regression”.

America magazine, which is a very authoritative Catholic magazine elaborated: “Before he was elected pope, Francis served as archbishop of Buenos Aires, and in that role, he advocated for same-sex civil unions in an attempt to block a same-sex marriage law. Argentina legalized same-sex marriage in 2010, which then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio called a “destructive attack on God’s plan.” But in meetings with other Argentine bishops, Cardinal Bergoglio urged them to support civil unions as a way to keep marriage distinctly heterosexual. “

“Pope Francis Has History of Defending Marriage, but Being Open to Some Civil Unions” – The Tablet

Another authoritative Catholic magazine, The Tablet said that Pope Francis had history of defending marriage, but being open to civil unions.Pope Francis’ comments in a brief passage in the documentary film, ‘Francesco,’ “…are similar to the position he took while archbishop of Buenos Aires and echo remarks he has made in several interviews during his pontificate:

“Marriage” is only between a man and a woman, but civil union laws could provide legal protection for couples in long-term, committed relationships” wrote The Tablet.

Speaking in Spanish in the film, Pope Francis says, “Homosexual people have a right to be in a family. They are children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out or be made miserable over it. What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered.”

However this does not mean that the comments of the Pope in the current documentary are of no importance. The Jesuit priest who has been at the forefront in seeking to build bridges with gays in the church, Father James Martin, praised the pope’s comments as “a major step forward in the church’s support for LGBT people.”

“The Pope’s speaking positively about civil unions also sends a strong message to places where the church has opposed such laws,” Martin said in a statement.

Not for the first time either

Pope Francis repeatedly has said publicly that parents should not and must not disown a child who is gay, and, on several occasions, he has spoken about the rights all people have to have a family.

The Tablet reported a 2019 interview on Mexican television, he was asked about his opposition to gay marriage in Argentina and his openness to LGBT people as pope.

“I have always defended doctrine,” he said. “It is a contradiction to speak of homosexual marriage.”