America Magazine: Explainer: What Pope Francis actually said about civil unions—and why it matters

America Magazine Editor’s note: This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

In a new documentary that premiered in Rome yesterday, Pope Francis appeared to endorse civil unions for same-sex couples for the first time as pope.

As portrayed in the documentary, the pope says: “Homosexual people have the 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 have is a civil union law—that way they are legally covered. I supported that.”

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  1. Iggy O'Donovan says:

    It is remarkable how how swiftly and fiercely traditionalists and conservatives have reacted to the comments of Pope Francis on the question of civil unions. Indeed I find it somewhat ironic to read the level of vitriol and abuse which has been hurled at the Pontiff. Leading the charges against Francis is Archbishop Vigano who has form when it comes to frustrating every attempt by the Pope to bring about any reform in the Roman curia. Curiously the attacks on Francis are not coming from “the usual suspects” on the liberal left but from the ultra right. In the past these people used loyalty to the Pope as a yardstick by which to measure theological deficiencies in liberals and so called dissenters. Now these conservatives are the dissenters.
    There has always been a group in the Church (albeit a minority) who believed in the possibility of a synthesis between the essential truth of their religion and the essential truth of modernity. This group in spite of their heavy defeat under John Paul II and Benedict XVI, have experienced a revival of hopes during Pope Francis’s pontificate. I can only hope and pray that this brief renaissance does not become a debacle. Under John Paul and Benedict mainline Catholic teaching was condemned to 30 years of protective custody. The Church is for ever in need of reform, but reform of any type in Rome is fiendishly difficult. If however reactionary elements manage to frustrate Francis’s modest attempts at reform then I fear many more of the faithful will walk away believing that the battle for sane Catholicism is lost.

  2. Mary Vallely says:

    Archbishop Eamon Martin at the ordination of new bishop Michael Router in 2019 said that “the fundamental calling of the bishop is to be a devoted father and brother who loves all those that God has placed in his care.”
    Strikes me that Pope Francis is showing that he is trying to show that love towards all by acknowledging the legal rights of those in committed same sex relationships by emphasising their right to protection under the law. He isn’t calling for marriage or for sacramental recognition so I cannot see why he is being castigated again by others in the hierarchy.

    The ordinary person in the pews can sense the Spirit moving in another just as the ordinary viewer and reader can sense with the heart that same Spirit moving or not within the two candidates for the American Presidency. The heart is the indwelling of the Spirit and mustn’t be ignored.

    There is hardly an extended family in Ireland now which does not have a member who is of same sex orientation. Where love is, there dwells the Spirit. We are all on a slow learning curve but you cannot learn if you close your heart to another.

    As my own PP said above, and I hope he and his fellow bishops reach out publicly to support Francis, we must love all without exception. We are not following Christ if we don’t.

    I share the same fears as Iggy@1.
    “ If however reactionary elements manage to frustrate Francis’s modest attempts at reform then I fear many more of the faithful will walk away believing that the battle for sane Catholicism is lost.”

  3. Joe+O'Leary says:

    It’s a no-brainer that the church at every level should be in dialogue with its lgbt members. In the absence of such dialogue pontifications from on high have no merit. The Viganò-Voris noise-makers are a paper tiger that must not prevent the development of a culture of welcome and dialogue. Forty years ago pastors were inhibited by a sense that if the church talked about such issues people would think the church had gone mad. But the issues are now no longer taboo, and it is the refusal to address them that now makes the church look insane.

  4. Eddie+Finnegan says:

    Joe@5, I’m delighted to hear this as I felt you might not have got around to engaging with the text earlier. Now, if only everyone else on here could engage with it similarly before Fratelli Tutti becomes another dead duck as far as this forum is concerned.

  5. Joe+O'Leary says:

    Fratelli tutti is sociologically acute. Once we lived on farms, tough but natural life, with real community despite the occasional feud. Then came electricity, the creamery, the radio, the tractor, the combine harvester, the motor car, television, and gradually we all emigrated to the city. Oh, freedom, excitement, vastly multiplied connections! Then the city became the locus of crime and misery, so we emigrated to the suburbs. Urban and suburban anomie became as oppressive as the long dark country nights. The Waste Land! Now, as the saying goes, we live in the internet. And that’s where Francis’s words find us out, challenging us to recover community and solidarity.

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