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Pope Francis’ homosexuality comments heavily edited in documentary, no Vatican comment on civil unions

While filmmaker Evgeny Afineevsky says Pope Francis made comments calling for the passage of civil union laws directly to him, the comments actually appear to come from a 2019 interview of Pope Francis conducted by Mexican journalist Valentina Alazraki.

A screenshot from the documentary "Francesco".

CNA Staff, Oct 22, 2020 / 12:20 pm (CNA).- “Francesco,” a newly-released documentary on Pope Francis, contains comments from the pope on homosexuality and civil unions. Some of the remarks, however, are the result of editing distinct phrases from a papal interview and presenting them as a cohesive whole.

While filmmaker Evgeny Afineevsky told CNA and other journalists that Pope Francis made comments calling for the passage of civil union laws directly to him, the comments actually appear to come from a 2019 interview of Pope Francis conducted by Mexican journalist Valentina Alazraki.

The pope’s comments on civil unions, have not been disputed by the Vatican despite multiple requests for clarity. The remarks were not contained in the published version of Alazraki’s interview, and have not been seen by the public except in “Francesco.”

On Wednesday, however, Fr. Antonio Spadaro, director of the influential journal La Civiltà Cattolica, told journalists that the pope’s remarks on civil unions are excerpted from the 2019 interview, and did not dispute the way in which they were presented in the documentary.

At the same time, a CNA analysis of the interview’s transcript shows that other papal comments on homosexuality featured in “Francesco” were compiled by heavy editing of the 2019 interview’s video footage.

“Francesco” presents Pope Francis saying the following, in remarks about his approach to pastoral care:

“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.”

While the pope did say those words on camera, he did not say them in that order, or use those phrases in immediate proximity.

CNA has bolded the appearance of those words in an excerpted translation of the pope’s remarks during his 2019 interview:

“I was asked a question on a flight – after it made me mad, made me mad for how one news outlet transmitted it – about the familial integration of people with homosexual orientation, and I said, homosexual people have a right to be in the family, people with homosexual orientation have a right to be in the family and parents have the right to recognize that son as homosexual, that daughter as homosexual. Nobody should be thrown out of the family, or be made miserable because of it.”

“Another thing is, I said when you see some signs in the children and from there send them to –  I should have said a ‘professional,’ what came out was ‘psychiatrist.’ I meant to say a professional because sometimes there are signs in adolescence or pre-adolescence that they don’t know if they are homosexually oriented or if it is that the thymus gland didn’t atrophy in time. Who knows, a thousand things, no? So, a professional. The title of the daily paper: ‘The Pope sends homosexuals to the psychiatrist.’ It’s not true!”

“They asked me the same question another time and I repeated it, ‘They are children of God, they have a right to a family, and such.’ Another thing is – and I explained I was wrong with that word, but I meant to say this: When you notice something strange – ‘Ah, it’s strange.’ – No, it’s not strange. Something that is outside of the usual. That is, not to take a little word to annul the context. There, what I said is that they ‘have a right to a family.’ And that doesn’t mean to approve of homosexual acts, not at all.”

After the presentation of those edited remarks, the pope is seen to say in “Francesco” that “What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered. I stood up for that.”

While those remarks seem certainly to come from the Alazraki interview, Francesco director Evgeny Afineevsky has told reporters otherwise, and the section of the Alazraki interview in which they would have come was not included in the published version, and is not available to the public.

But in addition to their context, some have called their meaning into question, suggesting that a phrase used by the pope, “convivencia civil,” was mistranslated by “Francesco” as “civil unions” in the film’s subtitle, and actually suggests a different kind of legal recognition.

But on Wednesday Archbishop Victor Manuel Fernandez, a theologian who has long been close to the pope, suggested that the pope’s phrase is substantially equivalent to the phrase “civil union.”

The archbishop posted on Facebook that before he became the pope, then Cardinal-Bergoglio “always recognized that, without calling it ‘marriage,’ in fact there are very close unions between people of the same sex, which do not in themselves imply sexual relations, but a very intense and stable alliance. They know each other thoroughly, they share the same roof for many years, they take care of each other, they sacrifice for each other. Then it may happen that they prefer that in an extreme case or illness they do not consult their relatives, but that person who knows their intentions in depth. And for the same reason they prefer that it be that person who inherits all their assets, etc. This can be contemplated in the law and is called ‘civil union’ [unión civil] or ‘law of civil coexistence’ [ley de convivencia civil], not marriage.”

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  1. Perhaps Fr. Antonio Spadaro can elaborate to a misled world-wide public how it is that he is so quickly knowledgeable about the documentary? How the final narrative was assembled, truncated, spliced and cobbled together? So able, almost immediately, to walk it at least part way back?

    But, why such an implied accusation, here, since CNA credits itself with detecting this news twist “at the same time.” So, maybe the recently reformed Vatican communication office (with a final editorial role?) was simply asleep at the switch…

  2. Is Pope Francis making heavily edited comments or is this a deep fake video?

    Deepfakes (a portmanteau of “deep learning” and “fake”[1]) are synthetic media[2] in which a person in an existing image or video is replaced with someone else’s likeness. While the act of faking content is not new, deepfakes leverage powerful techniques from machine learning and artificial intelligence to manipulate or generate visual and audio content with a high potential to deceive.[3] The main machine learning methods used to create deepfakes are based on deep learning and involve training generative neural network architectures, such as autoencoders[3] or generative adversarial networks (GANs).[4][5]

    Deepfakes have garnered widespread attention for their uses in celebrity pornographic videos, revenge porn, fake news, hoaxes, and financial fraud.[6][7][8][9] This has elicited responses from both industry and government to detect and limit their use.[10][11]

  3. Whatever the truth, the Vatican owes the world some formal communication on this matter. Otherwise catholicdom world over is confused & lost. We need to hear from the Holy Father himself

    • Rightfully so, but don’t hold your breath. Francis is like a politician. He keeps us on edge in a state of ambiguity. The Catholic Church is in crisis. People are leaving.

    • As head of the Catholic Church this is completely unacceptable for the following reasons.
      – ss unions go against Catholic teaching
      – this is typical of Bergoglio’s modus operandi – say one thing and mean another – it is typical of Marxist strategy to confuse and deceive.
      – Faithful Catholic cardinals and archbishops have clearly stated that Bergoglio’s way
      is not God’s law (see below)
      – We know the agenda here is to divide the Church, but we the faithful must cling to our faith and speak up in defense of truth.

      • As head of the Catholic Church
        People forget that Christ is the head of the Church. Unfortunately, Jorge Bergoglio arrogantly thinks that he is. Servus servorum Dei not so much.

  4. Dear – I sincerely thank you VERY much for the clarification. I am sorry to say that I was misled by the initial news reports from Non-Catholic news sources. Now it makes much better sense. I should have known not to immediately trust the mainstream Non-Catholic new media, and by the way they are many times actually Anti-Catholic new sources. Thanks for the details. God bless you. — Mark Kamoski

  5. As a cradle catholic who recently had a spiritual conversion my family thank you for this clarification As to where those chopped up quotes came from. We know how the media can twist and manipulate everything especially by those who are only guided by greed. I only wish this explanation is carried ,posted on all social media especially Facebook who has followers all over the world. We pray unceasingly that our Holy Father Pope Francis will always be guided by the Holy Spirit when he agrees to these interviews for there are many wolves in sheep’s clothing indeed. And May the Love that he showers to all children of God through the Sacred Heart of Jesus will always be heard correctly by the faithful.

  6. But the Vatican has not issued a clarification.
    We must therefore assume they wanted the media to say such things.
    This is intolerable.

  7. Spadaro! There’s a trustworthy source you can rely on.

    You ever notice how Pope Francis is always being misquoted, or taken out of context, but he never corrects the record? In fact, when he does go on record officially, he tends to confirm the general tenor of the remarks attributed to him. Like that time when he had his letter approving Argentina’s([?] some South American Bishop’s council?) plan for implementing Amoris Laetitia published in the official Vatican record (sorry, don’t know the name of the publication). Or when he had the Catechism changed to state that support for the death penalty was “inadmissible.”

  8. I get it. Bergoglio didn’t say, “Homosexual people should live together in legally-recognized unions.” He said, “Can’t we all get along?”

  9. Dancing around words, mingling of words, recharacterizing intent in afterthought, editing and rearranging past recordings to suit current intent of long held thought will not change the abdominal direction of infallibility once given only by the authority of men. Ref. Vatican Council I (1869-1870) The church forgave itself of its own sins and recognized papal supremacy in the Council of Trent, third session 1562-63. Nothing has changed!

  10. The Pope has spoken and we should respect his words because he is God’s anointed to lead the Catholics on earth at this particular moment in time. It does not matter what he says, the media will twist it anyway. We should always remember that that the accuser is at work sowing doubts and twisting words of those faithful who have not yet received the gifts from the Holy Spirit and therefore cannot see the difference between the sheep and the goats.
    King David in Psalm 56:1
    ” Be gracious to me, O God, for people trample on me, all day long foes oppress me.”
    It is the duty of all Catholics to pray daily for our Pope, bishops, priests, nuns and religious leaders.

    Even those who see themselves as children of God sometimes fall short and allow the accuser to sow confusion and doubt. In Isaiah 50:4 we read: ” The Lord God has given me the tongue of a teacher, that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word. Morning by morning he makes my ear alert to listen like a disciple. ”
    God’s justice triumphs over all injustices committed.

    Above all, We read in Ecclesiasticus about the freedom of choice:
    ” He himself made human beings in the beginning, and then left them free to make their decisions. If you choose, you will keep the 10 Commandments and so be faithful to his will.”
    (Ecclesiasticus 15: 14-15). We therefore have reason to search for whatever is being said about our Pope, he is not leading anyone astray because we already know the truth and it will set us free. ” For praise should only be uttered only in wisdom, and the Lord himself prompts it.”

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