VATICAN RESPONDS: Pope’s Comments On CIVIL UNIONS
Just a few minutes ago, Austen Ivereigh tweeted the text of a letter in Spanish from a Vatican official regarding the pope’s statements on homosexuality and same-sex civil unions in the documentary Francesco, writing,
The attached (in Spanish) was sent Oct 30 via a Latin-American nuncio at the request of Sec of State, to provide “some elements for a proper understanding of certain expressions of the Holy Father” in the Francesco doc.
He wrote in the preceding tweet:
Vatican’s Secretariat of State writes to bishops of the world (via nuncios) to brief them on Pope’s civil unions remarks, to show that they refer to “particular arrangements of the state” in respect of same-sex couples, and do not touch on “church doctrine”.
Presumably an official English version will be released at some point. In the meantime, here is our (unofficial) English translation of the text:
TO HELP UNDERSTAND SOME OF THE EXPRESSIONS OF THE POPE IN THE DOCUMENTARY “FRANCESCO”
Some statements contained in the documentary Francisco by filmmaker Evgeny Afineevsky, have provoked, in the past few days, a variety of reactions and interpretations. Therefore, we are offering some useful points of clarification, with the hope of—per his instruction—providing an adequate comprehension of the words of the Holy Father.
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 the proper contextualization, which has generated confusion. The Holy Father had first made a reference to the pastoral need that, within the family, a son or daughter with a homosexual orientation should never be discriminated against. These words refer to this: “Homosexuals have a right to be a part of the family. They’re children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out, or be made miserable because of it.”
The following paragraph of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia on Love in the Family (2016) can shed greater light on this statement:
“The Church makes her own the attitude of the Lord Jesus, who offers his boundless love to each person without exception. During the Synod, we discussed the situation of families whose members include persons who experience same-sex attraction, a situation not easy either for parents or for children. We would like before all else to reaffirm that every person, regardless of sexual orientation, ought to be respected in his or her dignity and treated with consideration, while ‘every sign of unjust discrimination’ is to be carefully avoided, particularly any form of aggression and violence. Such families should be given respectful pastoral guidance, so that those who manifest a homosexual orientation can receive the assistance they need to understand and fully carry out God’s will in their lives” (AL 250).
A subsequent question from the interview was in reference to a ten-year-old local law in Argentina on “marriage equality of same-sex couples” and his opposition to them as the then-Archbishop of Buenos Aires in this regard. To this end, Pope Francis has affirmed that “it is an incongruity to speak of homosexual marriage,” adding that—in that in the same context—he had spoken about the rights of these people to have certain legal protection: “What we have to have is a civil union (convivencia civil) law. That way they are legally covered. I stood up for that.”
The Holy Father expressed himself this way during an interview in 2014: “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” (CNA Translation; for Zenit translation, click here).
Therefore, it is clear that Pope Francis was referring to certain provisions made by states, and certainly not to the doctrine of the Church, which he has reaffirmed numerous times over the years.
Here is the original Spanish text Austen posted on Twitter:
Remember, folks. And as I said in my previous post, our Holy Father has been very clear that homosexual acts and “marriage” are unacceptable. The Church can never approve of what is an “intrinsic evil” (cf. CCC 2357). As Pope Francis points out by citing Amoris Laetitia, 250, he was speaking of something that had nothing to do with changing or contradicting doctrine. I will leave you with the pope’s excellent Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, 250-251:
The Church makes her own the attitude of the Lord Jesus, who offers his boundless love to each person without exception.275 During the Synod, we discussed the situation of families whose members include persons who experience same-sex attraction, a situation not easy either for parents or for children. We would like before all else to reaffirm that every person, regardless of sexual orientation, ought to be respected in his or her dignity and treated with consideration, while ‘every sign of unjust discrimination’ is to be carefully avoided,276 particularly any form of aggression and violence. Such families should be given respectful pastoral guidance, so that those who manifest a homosexual orientation can receive the assistance they need to understand and fully carry out God’s will in their lives.277 251. In discussing the dignity and mission of the family, the Synod Fathers observed that, “as for proposals to place unions between homosexual persons on the same level as marriage, there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family”. It is unacceptable “that local Churches should be subjected to pressure in 275 Cf. Bull Misericordiae Vultus, 12: AAS 107 (2015), 407. 276 Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2358; cf. Relatio Finalis 2015, 76. 277 Ibid. 191 this matter and that international bodies should make financial aid to poor countries dependent on the introduction of laws to establish ‘marriage’ between persons of the same sex”.278
For the anti-Francis mob who consistently miss-represent our Holy Father, I would note that footnote 278 cites as an authority the very document they alleged our Holy Father contradicted (when, of course, he did not): Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions between Homosexual Persons (3 June 2003), 4. I will say it again. Pope Francis is Catholic!
(4) There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family. Marriage is holy, while homosexual acts go against the natural moral law. Homosexual acts “close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved”.
Sacred Scripture condemns homosexual acts “as a serious depravity… (cf. Rom 1:24-27; 1 Cor 6:10; 1 Tim 1:10). This judgment of Scripture does not of course permit us to conclude that all those who suffer from this anomaly are personally responsible for it, but it does attest to the fact that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered”. This same moral judgment is found in many Christian writers of the first centuries and is unanimously accepted by Catholic Tradition.
Nonetheless, according to the teaching of the Church, men and women with homosexual tendencies “must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided”. They are called, like other Christians, to live the virtue of chastity.(8) The homosexual inclination is however “objectively disordered” and homosexual practices are “sins gravely contrary to chastity”.