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.


Categories:Breaking News Marriage Pope Francis

  • Paul H.

    Pope Francis is clearly open to civil unions. This shouldn’t be a surprise to Catholics. WHO AM I TO JUDGE?!

    Finally we can work for full equality in our society. GO POPE FRANCIS!!!

  • Peter

    Eric, as history shows, no issue is settled forever. Don’t believe this hype and overestimate current societal trends.

  • Jennifer

    Civil marriages are DEFINATELY NOT recognized as valid by the Church as one commenter posted previously. A civil marriage is one done by the state/government (ie. a judge). I know this personally as my civil marriage, acquired through a judge, was considered invalid until we actually went through with the sacrament. Also, I learned from going through marriage prep, that not all marriages performed by other Christian churches or faiths are necessarily recognized either. There is certain criteria that must be met in order for it to be considered valid.

    • morganB

      I think it is wrong to equate civil marriage with same sex marriage.

      After my first wife died I met and married my wonderful current wife. Gail tried to encourage her divorced ex-husband to assist her with an annulment. He refused. Father Damas, an old friend, refused
      our request. Directly across the street in Kingston, NY was The Old Dutch Reformed Church and pastor Paul Benes, another old friend. We had a beautiful Christmas wedding with Paul officiating and we have thrived since.

      If we hold to catholic teaching all non-Catholics, and there are billions, would be doomed to the eternal fire. Perhaps analogous to Islam’s definition of “infidels”.
      I would like to ask Pope Francis how his “New Evangelism” hopes to solve that dilemma.

      • Faith

        Education. Jesus said quite emphatically that those who divorce and remarry, or marry another who has been divorced commits adultery.

        The Pope cannot change what Christ ruled. He does not have that authority.

        What the Pope must do is educate on this matter, so that fewer are in that position, and where appropriate annulments are carried out to bring piece of mind for those who truly did not have valid marriages, so that they may move forward.

  • Eric Johnson

    Simply put, gay marriage is going to be accepted by more and more States and countries as time goes by. It’s a done deal as is the legalization of abortion. Neither of these issues affects anyone’s ability to follow their own religious beliefs. Period. Move on.

  • Paolo Pagliaro

    Please, explain why Pope Francis thinks it’s a good idea to “clarify” the Church position using this kind of interviews? This method is certainly working perfectly: each time it is necessary to explain **to Catholics** how the words of the Pope are still Catholic; you can easily imagine what non-Catholics are understanding.

    • http://a-star-of-hope.blogspot.com JoAnna

      Do you remember when the media breathlessly proclaimed that Pope Benedict said that condoms are okay to use? Yep, nothing new here, move along.

      • morganB

        JoAnna, I was looking for policy change on this stupid rule. There was none! In my opinion the church is basing this “SIN” on scripture that compares the belly of a whore to the ground. As usual… total mystery.

        Benedict XVI focused on the plight of the HIV infected blacks in Africa to use condoms as the lease of two evils.

  • Zeke

    The media have always spun the words of the popes. Most people don’t seem to have the capacity to evaluate topics that require a fair amount of attention to detail in order to understand. Matrimony and sexual preference are two such topics. I am confident that Pope Francis will not scandalize the faithful, but thank you CV, for helping others who may not be so sure.

    In this case, the quote seems pretty vague to claim he is open to supporting civil unions *for “gay” couples*. But even were that his intent, I don’t see how that is scandalous. What’s a civil union to the Church? If two elderly widowed sisters want to receive visitation benefits, so be it. If two homosexuals want to receive health care, so be it. A civil union need not equate to marriage and need not imply sexual activity.



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