Did Pope Francis Support Civil Unions?


Well, no. Actually he didn’t do anything of the kind. Of course, the liberal media will never let the truth get in the way of a good story. Here’s what CNN wrote yesterday:

Pope Francis reaffirmed the Catholic Church’s opposition to gay marriage on Wednesday, but suggested in a newspaper interview that it could support some types of civil unions.

The Pope reiterated the church’s longstanding teaching that “marriage is between a man and a woman.” However, he said, “We have to look at different cases and evaluate them in their variety.”

Pope Francis

Pope Francis

This is so weaselly that it gives a very different impression from what Pope Francis actually said. Here’s the actual transcript of the interview:

Q: Many nations have regulated civil unions. Is it a path that the Church can understand? But up to what point?

A: Marriage is between a man and a woman. Secular states want to justify civil unions to regulate different situations of cohabitation, pushed by the demand to regulate economic aspects between persons, such as ensuring health care. It is about pacts of cohabitating of various natures, of which I wouldn’t know how to list the different ways. One needs to see the different cases and evaluate them in their variety.

Pope Francis said two things here:

1) “Marriage is between a man and a woman.” Period. End of story. Crystal clear. Black and white. Not open to discussion. Etc., etc., etc.

2) The secular civil authorities have laws to govern people who choose to live together without the blessing of the Church.

What Pope Francis does not say is that this necessarily even extends to same-sex couples. Civil unions have a different meaning in Europe where in order to be legally married, you have to appear before a secular magistrate in addition to the Rite of Holy Matrimony. There is a long tradition of anti-religious sentiment in Europe and it is much more common for people to be “married without benefit of clergy” as the expression goes. Common law marriages go back centuries. Cohabitation is not a new phenomenon. There are many laws concerning inheritances bequeathed to children born out of wedlock. It goes on and on.

At the same time, as Catholics we have compassion for the dignity of every person. One of the arguments for same-sex marriage is that in life-and-death situations people should not be left alone. Spouses have the right to make medical and financial decisions for each other in an emergency. Perhaps there are situations where the Church might not object to civil authorities extending certain rights to unmarried persons in these sorts of sensitive and extreme situations. However, what Pope Francis actually said is very clear: the rights of unmarried persons should be addressed in particular situations by the civil authorities, not by forcing the Church to violate her teachings.

The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of CatholicVote.org


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Joshua Bowman joined in full communion with the Catholic Church in 2010 after many years in the spiritual wilderness. He recently moved back to his beloved native Virginia from Columbus, Ohio with his growing family and writes on religion, politics, history, and geographical curiosities.

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