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Vatican Secretariat of State provides context of Pope Francis civil union remark

“Therefore it is evident that Pope Francis has referred to certain state provisions, certainly not to the doctrine of the Church, reaffirmed numerous times over the years…”

Pope Francis (left), with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State in a 2020 photo. (Credit: Daniel Ibanez/CNA)

CNA Staff, Nov 1, 2020 / 04:55 pm (CNA).-  The Vatican’s Secretary of State has asked papal representatives to share with bishops some clarifications regarding comments on civil unions made by Pope Francis in a recently released documentary, according to the apostolic nuncio to Mexico.

The clarifications explain that the pope’s comments do not pertain to Catholic doctrine regarding the nature of marriage as a union between one man and one woman, but to provisions of civil law.

“Some statements, contained in the documentary ‘Francisco’ by screenwriter Evgeny Afineevsky, have provoked, in recent days, various reactions and interpretations. Therefore, some helpful points are offered, with the desire to present an adequate understanding of the Holy Father’s words,” Archbishop Franco Coppolo, apostolic nuncio, posted on Facebook Oct. 30.

The nuncio told ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner, that the content of his post was provided by the Vatican Secretariat of State to apostolic nunciatures, in order to be shared with bishops.

The post explained that in a 2019 interview, unpublished parts of which were aired in the recent documentary, the pope commented at different times on two distinct issues: that children should not be ostracized from their families because of their sexual orientation, and on civil unions, amid discussion of a 2010 same-sex marriage bill in the Argentine legislature, which Pope Francis, who was then Archbishop of Buenos Aires, opposed.

The interview question that prompted remark on civil unions was “inherent in a local law from ten years ago in Argentina on ‘equal marriages of same-sex couples’ and the opposition of the then Archbishop of Buenos Aires in this regard. In this regard, Pope Francis has affirmed that ‘it is an incongruity to speak of homosexual marriage,’ adding that, in the same context, he had spoken of the right of these people to have certain legal coverage: ‘what we have to do is a law of civil union; they have the right to be covered legally. I defended that,’” Coppolo posted on Facebook.

“The Holy Father had expressed himself thus during an interview in 2014: ‘Marriage is between a man and a woman. The secular States want to justify civil unions to regulate various situations of coexistence, moved by the demand to regulate economic aspects between people, such as ensuring health care. These are coexistence pacts of a different nature, of which I would not be able to give a list of the different forms. It is necessary to see the various cases and evaluate them in their variety,” the post added.

“Therefore it is evident that Pope Francis has referred to certain state provisions, certainly not to the doctrine of the Church, reaffirmed numerous times over the years,” the statement said.

The Secretariat of State’s statement is consistent with recent public statements from two Argentine bishops: Archbishop Hector Aguer and Archbishop Victor Manuel Fernandez, the emeritus and current archbishops of La Plata, Argentina, and with additional reporting on the context of the pope’s remarks.

On Oct. 21, Fernandez posted on Facebook that before he became 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.”

“What the Pope has said on this subject is what he also maintained when he was the Archbishop of Buenos Aires,” Fernández added.

“For him, the expression ‘marriage’ has a precise meaning and only applies to a stable union between a man and a woman open to communicating life…there is a word, ‘marriage,’ that only applies to that reality. Any other similar union requires another name,” the archbishop explained.

Last week, Aguer told ACI Prensa that in 2010, “Cardinal Bergoglio, then being the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, proposed in a plenary assembly of the Argentine bishops’ conference to support the legality of civil unions of homosexual persons by the state, as a possible alternative to what was called – and is called – ‘marriage equality.’”

“At that time, the argument against him was that it was not a merely political or sociological question, but that it involved a moral judgment; consequently, the sanction of civil laws contrary to the natural order cannot be promoted. It was also noted that this teaching has been repeatedly stated in the documents of the Second Vatican Council. The plenary of the Argentine bishops rejected that proposal and voted against it,” Aguer said.

America Magazine published Oct. 24 the apparent context of the pope’s remark on civil unions.

During a discussion on the pope’s opposition to a same-sex marriage proposal when he was an archbishop in Argentina, Alazraki asked Pope Francis if he had adopted more liberal positions after becoming pope, and if so, whether that was attributable to the Holy Spirit.

Alazraki asked: “You waged a whole battle over egalitarian weddings, of couples of the same sex in Argentina. And later they say that you arrived here, they elected you pope and you appeared much more liberal than what you were in Argentina. Do you recognize yourself in this description that some people who knew you before make, and was it the grace of the Holy Spirit that gave you a boost? (laughs)”

According to America Magazine, the pope responded that: “The grace of the Holy Spirit certainly exists. I have always defended the doctrine. And it is curious that in the law on homosexual marriage…. It is an incongruity to speak of homosexual marriage. But what we have to have is a law of civil union (ley de convivencia civil), so they have the right to be legally covered.”

The last sentence was omitted when Alazraki’s interview was broadcast in 2019.

The Secretariat of State’s statement seems to confirm that the pope said “I stood up for that,” immediately after his other remarks on civil unions, a fact which had not previously been made clear.

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  1. The Secretariat of State is here acting in his newly “reorganized” role as “supreme-administrator” of the Pontiff Bergoglio’s McCarrick Establishment.

    He is here acting as “super-administrator-for-the-Congregation-of-the-Faith,” since the CDF is no longer important enough to speak on the doctrine of the Faith, after the Pontiff Francis demoted it to a third-tier burea swallowed inside the Bergoglian “Bureaucracy-for-Evangelization-of-Peoples.”

    This is what comes from organizing as if Mammon is more important to the Church than the Faith itself.

    The first bad turn was done by Paul VI in his 1970 (?) “reorganization,” demoting The Congregation for the Faith, for centuries standing as the most important Congregation in the Vatican, and promoting the Secretariat of State as the premier Congregation. VERY BAD MOVE.

    The second cementing step in destroying the Congregation for the Faith was the Pontiff Francis “super-Secretary-of-State” reorganization, demoting the CDF into the corrupt Curial bureaucracy, and magnifying the Secretary-of-State Parolin as super-power through which all matters are “interpreted” and “communicated.” MADE WORSE.

    This is the Church of The Pollution, not (as St. Paul testified) steered by “the mind of Christ,” but by men who have “the mind of McCarrick.”

    It is fitting that the biggest fraud in the McCarrick Pontificate, the architect of the Secret Communist-Vatican Accord, now is forced to explain everything about the Pontiff Francis.

    As Phillip Lawler wrote a week ago about this, these men aren’t very convincing.

  2. I think the Picture of the Pope and Parolin together, in that awkward pose, while trying to explain his position on same sex unions, is hopefully an unintended gaffe.

  3. God’s law does not change because God’s commandments are for all people from the first to the last human being on earth.

    Any sexual act outside of marriage is a grave sin. And marriage has to be understood only as a valid one between one man and one woman. The Pope is backing homosxual unions and not homosexual marriages for the simple reason that homosexual marriages are not according to God’s loving plan. And the Pope is intending only ‘unions’ without suggesting homosexuals to indulge in the grave sin of sexual acts between them.

    So, homosexuality, masturbation, adultery, fornication and pornography are acts that go against the sixth and ninth commandments of God. They are grave sins.

    No discernment can ever end up suggesting anyone to start committing or to continue committing these acts because they are grave sins.

    It is the devil’s guile and trap to suggest to any bishop or priest to resort to these acts because they are not sins and worse to encourage others to start or carry on with these sins.

    It is possible to avoid these sins by God’s all-powerful grace. Rather, I would say that by God’s grace it is possible to win all temptations against the sixth and ninth commandments of God always, immediately and easily. The more we grow in God’s love, the easier it becomes for us to win all temptations.

  4. It seems, despite dancing around the subject, that the Holy Father does agree with accepting civil unions of homosexual
    couples, for insurance and legal reasons.
    What is the difference from what we all heard earlier?
    Respectfully submitted.

  5. Ambiguity is never helpful. It is good to not wish anyone harm and to seek for the government to protect individuals from being harmed but about 1% of the world that now believes the Holy Father supports same sex unions will read this message and understand the original statement and the context it was given in. The rest now believe that doctrine is being updated to be modern.

  6. Well at best this will be interpreted to mean that the Pope believes it acceptable and honest for people (like Cuomo and Biden) to profess discordant private and public conscience. To wit, a state may call an abortion a “choice” rather than a “homicide” and Catholics should (presumably) just celebrate diversity. The Secretary also needed to address the dishonest editing of the video to imply that the Pope encourages the notion of a family comprising children being raised by homosexual parents.

    • You got it. It is like the pope saying “Well, we Catholics oppose abortion, but if you civil government guys want to pass a law allowing abortion, we are fine with that”
      It makes no sense at all.

  7. When the Pope strays into rank heresy, it is not the role of the Vatican Secretary of State to “provide context.” We already know the context. The Pope has sold out Chinese Catholics, refused to respond to his own bishops calls for clear orthodox teaching, promoted idolatry in the Eternal City itself, promoted homosexualists at every level of the Church, and protected pedophiles at every turn, among many other scandalous actions. THAT is the context.

  8. First, why is some underling making this statement rather than the Pope himself? Why? So that the Pope can, if pressed, deny what the Secretary of State said.
    Second, the Secretary of States’ statement makes no sense. OF COURSE civil laws are passed by the civil authority. The Pope is supposed to tell us if the civil law is in accord with Catholic teaching. Here, the Pope seems to be supporting a civil law whose purpose is to allow homosexuals to live together and have sex with each other, and give legal effect to that relationship. This cannot be in accord with Catholic teaching. Pure and simple.
    So the attempt of the Vatican to now say, “our doctrine has not changed, its just that we support civil unions, where homosexuals can live with each other in sinful relationships sanctioned by the state” makes no sense at all.
    It is saying, Doctrinally, we still oppose civil unions because it sanctions sin, but if the civil authorities want to pass a law saying that two men can live in sin, that’s fine with us.
    It makes NO SENSE AT ALL.
    What an awful Pope.

  9. After all these on point comments what can I add? Better that I continue a day of recollection, prayers and Masses for the dead who though suffering in purgatory are at least saved. What of the many not simply laity but clergy and hierarchy that aren’t in good stead with the commandments of Christ? My prayers on this day of repentance and reparation are for us all.

  10. My understanding is that he condoned civil unions because some country was pushing to legalize marriage??? And he felt it less damaging to support CIVIL unions? What kind of logic is that? Its still giving an ok to something the church has long said is wrong. What is the difference? NO homosexual union of this sort should be recognized by the church. He was correct to demand that families still love their gay family members and not to throw them out of their homes. THAT was a position he could firmly stand for, on the basis of love the sinner but hate the sin. The irony to me is that when the contraceptive PILL came out in like the 1960’s, the church forbade its use even by married couples. In so doing they guaranteed that millions of otherwise faithful catholics, who knew they were not cut out to parent and raise 9 kids, left the church and have never returned. Yet he wants to give an OK to homosexual civil unions??? Really????

  11. Their reasons for leaving the Church were stupid, arrogant, selfish, and juvenile. Contraception has nothing at all to do with not being parents of “nine” children. The Church upholding the dignity of God’s design and the dignity of marriage affected no faithless Catholic’s decision to leave the Church. There is no real irony in a pope acting with the same level of faithlessness. Instead it is just another tragic event in the history of the Church.

  12. it is not first a question about the nature or action of homosexual ‘marriage’, this is a deflection and deceit tactic of the dark spirits. Rather the Holy Spirit’s point is Confirming the Brethren in and Guiding us ‘into all Truth”, namely, in: Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons. The Holy Spirit’s Teaching is:

    “The Church teaches that respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to.. legal recognition of homosexual unions…. Legal recognition of homosexual unions… would mean not only the approval of deviant behavior, with the consequence of making it a model in present-day society, but would also obscure basic values which belong to the common inheritance of humanity” (no.11).

    It is specified in no.10 that: “If it is true that all Catholics are obliged to oppose the legal recognition of homosexual unions, Catholic politicians are obliged to do so in a particular way, in keeping with their responsibility as politicians.” As a result, “ the Catholic law-maker has a moral duty to express his opposition clearly and publicly and to vote against” such legislation on same-sex unions. “To vote in favor of a law so harmful to the common good is gravely immoral”.

    First Friday and Saturday blessings, mercies, graces, gifts and miracles

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