ROME, January 6, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – After some Italian journalists reported that remarks about a lesbian fiancee made by Pope Francis during a Q&A showed that the pope is open to the homosexual civil union legislation currently being considered in Italy, the Vatican has issued a statement denying those media reports.
The reports are the latest in a spate of media portrayals that paint Pope Francis as open to homosexuality, which reached its apex with the selection of Pope Francis as person of the year by the homosexual activist magazine The Advocate.
A Vatican clarification issued today to Vatican radio noted, however, that the pope did not take a position on the civil unions legislation in his remarks, which predated the debate in Italy.
The text of the Q&A session, which occurred on November 29, was released this past Friday in the Jesuit Journal La Civilta Cattolica.
During that Q&A, the pope recalled a complex situation he encountered while in Buenos Aires. “I remember the case of a very sad little girl who finally confided to her teacher the reason for her state of mind: ‘my mother’s fiancée doesn’t like me,’” he said. (In Italian the word used indicates that the fiancée was female).
The pope spoke of the challenges that educators face in evangelizing in a complex world. “How can we proclaim Christ to a generation that is changing?” he asked. “We must be careful not to administer a vaccine against faith to them.”
In today's statement, the Director of the Holy See’s Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, explained: “In his conversation with religious superiors, the pope offered the consideration that the situation in which education of children takes place today is very different than in the past, because [these children] live in many difficult family situations, such as parents who are separated, anomalous new unions, sometimes including homosexual unions, and so on.”
Fr. Lombardi called the media’s portrayal of the pope’s remarks as an “opening to gay couples” a "stretch" and "paradoxical," “because even the small concrete example made by the Pope about (a girl who is sad because her mother’s girlfriend does not love her) alludes to the suffering of children ...”
The Vatican spokesman concluded, “The pope absolutely did not express himself on the debate that reopened in Italy only a month later, and whoever recalls the positions manifested by him in precedence in Argentina on the occasion of analogous debates knows well that they were completely different from those that some now seek surreptitiously to attribute to him.”
John Allen, one of the world’s best-known Vatican reporters who is granted access to the Vatican like few others, was given the full text of Fr. Lombardi’s response. Allen, however, questioned Fr. Lombardi’s portrayal of Pope Francis’ position on homosexual civil unions.
“Lombardi’s reference to the pope’s position in the past during ‘analogous debates’ in Argentina begs the question of what, exactly, that position really was,” says Allen.
Allen added: “When Argentina became the first Latin American nation to approve gay marriage in 2010, then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio expressed strong opposition. However, former officials of the Argentine bishops’ conference, friends of Bergoglio, and journalists who covered the debate all say that behind the scenes, Bergoglio expressed openness to some form of civil partnership as an alternative to full marriage rights.”
However, other diocesan officials in Argentina have refuted such claims, calling them false.
Meanwhile, some mainstream media and homosexual activist publications are suggesting that Pope Francis’ shift in emphasis and tone on the matter of homosexuality are revolutionary. Unlike his predecessors, who were attacked by the media for noting the immorality of homosexual acts, thus far in his pontificate Pope Francis has not made any similar statements. He did, however, in his first encyclical - co-authored by Pope Benedict - note that marriage is to be between one man and one woman.
Nevertheless, Pope Francis has not shied away from engaging the topic of homosexuality.
During an in-flight interview returning form Rio, in response to a question about homosexual priests, he famously said: “If someone is gay and is searching for the Lord and has good will, then who am I to judge him?”
Then, during the first off-the-cuff interview that was published in Jesuit magazines, he said:
A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?'
We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that… The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.
The pope explained his purposeful avoidance of the hard teachings of the Church on homosexuality and other matters in those same interviews. He was asked by a reporter on the return voyage from Rio’s World Youth Day why he did not mention abortion and gay ‘marriage,’ even though in Brazil legislation was under consideration on both matters.
“The Church has already spoken quite clearly on this. It was unnecessary to return to it, just as I didn’t speak about cheating, lying, or other matters on which the Church has a clear teaching!” he responded.
When the reporter retorted, “But the young are interested in this ...” he added, “Yes, though it wasn’t necessary to speak of it, but rather of the positive things that open up the path to young people. Isn’t that right! Besides, young people know perfectly well what the Church’s position is.”
The reporter asked her last follow up: “What is Your Holiness’ position, if we may ask?”
The pope replied, “The position of the Church. I am a son of the Church.”
The text of Fr. Lombardi’s statement follows:
“In his conversation with religious superiors, the pope offered the consideration that the situation in which education of children takes place today is very different than in the past, because [these children] live in many difficult family situations, such as parents who are separated, anomalous new unions, sometimes including homosexual unions, and so on. Education and the proclamation of the faith naturally can’t ignore that reality and must be attentive to the good of the new generations, accompanying them with affection starting from their concrete situation, in order not to provoke negative reactions contrary to openness to the faith.
“This point about the educational responsibilities of the church, which in a sense is fairly obvious, was made on Nov. 29 in entirely general terms, [but] has been placed by various Italian media outlets in the context of the question raised in recent days of recognition of civil unions of homosexual couples.
“The stretch is completely self-evident, so much so that in some cases it seems the pope’s remark is being instrumentalized. To speak of an ‘opening to gay couples’ is paradoxical, because the pope’s comment is completely general and because even the small concrete example made by the pope in this regard (a young girl who was sad because the female fiancé of her mother doesn’t love her) alludes to the suffering of the child …
"The pope absolutely did not express himself on the debate that reopened in Italy only a month later, and whoever recalls the positions manifested by him in precedence in Argentina on the occasion of analogous debates knows well that they were completely different from those that some now seek surreptitiously to attribute to him.”