Pope’s backing of civil unions ‘refers to state provisions, not Church doctrine’ – Holy See

Vatican Media

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

The Holy See has sought to clarify the remarks made by Pope Francis in the recently-released documentary Francesco, emphasising that the Pope was neither challenging Church doctrine nor making any new announcement by signalling support of same-sex civil unions.

Newsrooms the world over have generally interpreted the Pope’s remarks, as featured on the documentary directed by Evgeny Afineevsky, as a shift in stance for the Church. Catholic news websites, however, highlighted that the Pope has openly supported civil unions for years.

The Holy See has clarified that the remarks featured on the documentary were sourced from the Pope’s answers to two separate questions, edited as though they were a unified remark. In the absence of context, it said, confusion was created.

In his first response, it clarified, the Pope was emphasising that families should never discriminate against their gay children, highlighting that they too were the children of God and had the right to 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,” the Pope maintained.

The Vatican highlighted that the Pope made similar remarks in his 2016 apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia.

The second response referred to the legalisation of same-sex marriage in Argentina in 2010, when the Pope was Archbishop of Buenos Aires.

The Pope, the Holy See clarified, had opposed same-sex marriage as incongruent, but also emphasised that he favoured civil unions. He insisted that same-sex couples deserved legal protection, and that civil unions would provide this.

Once more, the Vatican noted that the Pope had made similar remarks back in 2014.

While the Pope had said that marriage should be between a man and a woman, states needed to implement civil unions to regularise various other forms of cohabitation which deserved legal protections.

The Holy See said that it was therefore evident that the Pope was referring to state provisions, and certainly not to the Church doctrine he has spoken about repeatedly over the years.