Vatican back tracks Pope Francis' same-sex civil union remarks

The Catholic Church says that the Pontiff's comments were taken out of context from an old interview.

The Vatican framed between two pillars, the Vatican back tracks the Pope's remarks.

Just a few weeks ago, it seemed like the Catholic Church was turning a corner with the acceptance of same-sex civil unions within the church when Pope Francis made comments regarding the LGBTQ+ community in the documentary Francesco. However, the Vatican secretariat of state has issued a statement backtracking Pope Francis’ remarks, saying they were taken out of context.

In the statement, the Vatican says that the Pope was referring to his position in 2010 when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires. They said that the quote was not recent and was taken from a May 2019 interview that was never broadcast. The church claimed two of Francis’ answers were spliced together in Francesco.

“More than a year ago, during an interview, Pope Francis answered two different questions at two different times that, in the aforementioned documentary, were edited and published as a single answer without proper contextualisation, which has led to confusion,” the guidance states.

Within the interview in the documentary, Pope Francis 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.”

According to the Vatican, the Pontiff was referring to parents with LGBTQ+ children and they should not kick them out or discriminate against them.

The second part of his remarks – “What we have to create is a civil union law, that way they are legally covered, I stood up for that” – was again skewed, the Vatican claims. Pope Francis was referring to his position in 2010 when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires and strongly opposed moves to allow same-sex marriage. Instead, he favoured extending legal protections to LGBTQ+ couples under what is understood in Argentina as a civil union law.

While Francis was known to have taken that position privately, he has never expressed his support publicly while as Pope.

This statement from the Vatican regarding the Pope’s remarks has created more attention due to the director of the documentary, Francesco, Evgeny Afineevsky, had misled journalists by claiming Francis had made the comments to him in a new interview, a week before the premiere.

When he was asked about the civil union comments, Mr Afineevsky told Associated Press that he had two on-camera interviews with the Pope and that the civil union footage came from an interview with the Pope with a translator present.

The Vatican says that Afineevsky was given access to the original, uncut footage in the Vatican archives. With this he had taken a May 2019 interview, and put together two different answers from two different questions, making it seem like Pope Francis approved of civil unions for same-sex couples within the church.

White The Vatican insists that Francis wasn’t contradicting church doctrine, it doesn’t explain how his support for extending Argentine legal protections to LGBTQ+ couples in 2010 could be allowed, regarding the 2003 document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which says “the principles of respect and non-discrimination cannot be invoked to support legal recognition of homosexual unions.”

It appears for now the church will remain firm with their centuries-old (and outdated) doctrine that marriage is between a man and woman. But perhaps with Pope Francis’ support of legal protections to the LGBTQ+ community in 2010 despite the 2003 doctrine, might give reason to hope for the future.

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