Homosexual couples, what did the Pope really say about civil unions?
► What did Pope Francis say?
In a documentary presented on Wednesday October 21 at the Rome Film Festival and directed by Evgeny Afineevsky, the Pope returns, during interviews in Spanish, to several episodes of his pontificate. Among them, he evokes his regular meetings with homosexual people. The documentary filmmaker tells the story of Andrea Rubera, in a relationship with another man, and who came to meet the Pope to talk to him about the integration of her three children in his parish.
It is following this sequence presented by the director that the Pope addresses the question of civil unions. “Homosexual people have the right to be in a family, they are children of God, they have the right to a family. You cannot kick someone out of a family or make their life impossible for that reason. What we need to do is a civil union law because they have the right to legal coverage. This is what I defended. “
► In what context were these words spoken?
These sentences are taken from an interview with a Mexican journalist, Valentina Alazraki, the Vatican correspondent of Noticieros Televisa. It is in this river interview, broadcast in February 2019 on Mexican television that the Pope addresses the question of homosexual people, and marriage. But at the time, the phrase about civil union did not appear in the final cut of the interview.
Why hadn’t it been aired? And how did director Evgeny Afineevsky get this excerpt? These questions, sent by The cross to the documentary team and to the Mexican journalist, remain unanswered for the time being.
► Has Pope Francis already said this?
It is clear that by referring to “What I have defended”, the pope alludes to his position during the debates, in Argentina, on the legalization of the marriage of homosexual persons. In 2010, then Archbishop of Buenos Aires, he strongly opposed same-sex marriage, which he even considered to be a “Serious setback”. On the other hand, he pleaded for a possibility of civil union – the equivalent of the Pacs in France -, considering it in a way as a “Lesser evil”, explained later Sergio Rubin, author of a biography of Bergoglio.
A position recalled in a post published on Facebook by Mgr Víctor Manuel Fernández, the Argentine Archbishop of La Plata. “Jorge Bergoglio has always recognized that, without calling it ‘marriage’, there are in fact very close unions between people of the same sex, which do not in themselves involve sexual relations, but rather a very intense alliance and stable “, he writes. “This type of union can be provided for by law and is called“ civil union ”or“ civil partnership law ”, and not marriage,” writes Bishop Fernández,
In 2017, having become Pope, François also addressed this theme of civil union and marriage in a book of interviews with the French sociologist Dominique Wolton. “What about same-sex marriage? “Marriage” is a historical word. It has always been in humanity, and not only in the Church, it is a man and a woman ”, then affirmed Pope Francis. “We can’t change that. It is the nature of things. They are like that “, he continued.
Then, while the sociologist reminds the Pope about civil unions: “Marriage is a man with a woman. That is the precise term. Let us call the same-sex union “civil union” (…) But it is not a marriage, it is a civil union. “There is no other way”, let’s do it like this… ”
► What does the Church say about civil unions?
In a document on “Projects for the legal recognition of unions between homosexual persons”, published in 2003, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, then prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, had clearly expressed himself against any “Legal recognition of homosexual unions” or any attempt to“Legally assimilate homosexual unions to marriage”. “We must oppose it in a clear and incisive way”, he wrote then.
In 2014, Bishop Bruno Forte, then secretary general of the Synod on the Family, assured that the Church was against the use of “Same terminology” to designate unions between heterosexuals and those between people of the same sex. “Having said this, it is clear that the human beings involved in various experiments have rights and must be protected”, he added.