According to the Vatican, Pope Francis’ comments on gay civil unions were taken out of context in a documentary that spliced together parts of an old interview, but still confirmed Francis’ belief that gay couples should enjoy legal protections.
Guidance to ambassadors was issued by the Vatican secretariat of state to explain the uproar that Francis’ comments created following the Oct. 21 premiere of the film “Francesco,” at the Rome Film Festival. The Vatican nuncio to Mexico, Archbishop Franco Coppola, posted the unsigned guidance on his Facebook page Sunday.
The Vatican confirmed that 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 favored extending legal protections to gay couples under what is understood in Argentina as a civil union law.
Francis was known to have taken that position privately, he had never voiced his support while pope. As a result, the comments made headlines because the Vatican’s doctrine office in 2003 issued a document prohibiting such endorsement. The document, signed by Francis’ predecessor, says the church’s support for gay people “cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behavior or to legal recognition of homosexual unions.”
Director Evgeny Afineevsky misled journalists by claiming Francis had made the comments to him in a new interview.
“Homosexual people have the right to be in a family. They are children of God,” Francis said. “You can’t kick someone out of a family, nor make their life miserable for this. What we have to have is a civil union law; that way they are legally covered.”
The Popes comments about gays having the right to be in a family referred to parents with gay children, and the need for them to not kick their children out or discriminate against them, the Vatican guidance said.
Pope Francis was not endorsing the right of gay couples to adopt children, even though the placement of the quote made it seem that Francis was.
Francis’ comments about gay civil unions came from a different part of the interview and included several caveats that were not included in the film.
During the interview, Francis made clear he was explaining his position about the unique case in Buenos Aires 10 years ago.
At the time of the interview, Francis also insisted that he always maintained Catholic doctrine and said there was an “incongruity” for the Catholic Church as far as “homosexual marriage” is concerned.
The documentary eliminated that context.