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Pope Francis in his wheelchair, February 28, 2024Vatican News

VATICAN CITY (LifeSiteNews) — Pope Francis has defended civil unions for homosexuals, stating that “it is right that these people who live the gift of love can have legal coverage like everyone else.”

As part of a book-length interview, a preview of which was released in recent days by Corriere della Sera and Vatican News, Pope Francis spoke in defense of homosexual civil unions.

While agreeing with the Catholic Church’s teaching that same-sex “marriage” cannot occur, Francis defended the legal civil union of homosexuals. 

“It is right that these people who live the gift of love can have legal coverage like everyone else,” he is reported as stating.

Continuing, in a section not entirely reproduced by Vatican News but only by Corriere, Francis stated:

Jesus often went out to meet people who were living on the margins, and that’s what the Church should do today with people from the LGBTQ+ community, who within the Church are often marginalized: make them feel at home, especially those who have received baptism and are for all intents and purposes part of the people of God. And those who have not received baptism and wish to receive it, or those who wish to be godparents, please let them be welcomed.

The latter comment about baptism is likely referring to the controversial document Francis approved in November last year, stating “transgender” individuals can be godparents for the sacrament of baptism, and allowing homosexual “parents” to have their children baptized.

Pope Francis famously issued a call for civil unions in 2020, as part of comments he made for the film Francesco. “What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered. I stood up for that,” he stated at the time. A furor then emerged over the statements and the Vatican’s attempt to remove the comments from the original interview, while the Vatican maintained official silence about the controversy. 

Commenting on the film in October 2020, Father Gerald Murray firmly critiqued the Pope:

He has no right to promote the erroneous teaching that homosexual people have a right to live together in sin or have a just claim upon civil society, acting through its governments, to publicly recognize such unions as legal institutions that are equivalent in some way to sacramental marriage.

The Pope’s statements in 2020 and in the upcoming book appear to run in contradiction to Catholic teaching. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s 2003 text, Considerations Regarding Proposals to give Legal Recognition to unions between Homosexual Persons, explicitly ruled out the possibility of condoning homosexual civil unions. 

The CDF wrote:

The Church teaches that respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behavior or to legal recognition of homosexual unions. The common good requires that laws recognize, promote and protect marriage as the basis of the family, the primary unit of society. 

Legal recognition of homosexual unions or placing them on the same level as marriage 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. The Church cannot fail to defend these values, for the good of men and women and for the good of society itself.

In its 1986 letter to the world’s bishops on the “pastoral care of homosexual persons,” the CDF highlighted that even the word “union” was incompatible with homosexual activity:

Homosexual activity is not a complementary union, able to transmit life; and so it thwarts the call to a life of that form of self-giving which the Gospel says is the essence of Christian living. This does not mean that homosexual persons are not often generous and giving of themselves; but when they engage in homosexual activity they confirm within themselves a disordered sexual inclination which is essentially self-indulgent.

This point was expanded on by Raymond Cardinal Burke in a 2020 statement he issued responding to the film Francesco. “To speak of a homosexual union, in the same sense as the conjugal union of the married, is, in fact, profoundly misleading, because there can be no such union between persons of the same sex,” he wrote. 

“In what regards the administration of justice, persons in the homosexual condition, as all citizens, can always make use of the provisions of law to safeguard their private rights,” stated Burke.

Regarding an authentic pastoral approach to people with homosexual tendencies, the CDF wrote in 1986 that such a position would “assist homosexual persons at all levels of the spiritual life: through the sacraments, and in particular through the frequent and sincere use of the sacrament of Reconciliation, through prayer, witness, counsel and individual care.”

The instruction adds: 

But we wish to make it clear that departure from the Church’s teaching, or silence about it, in an effort to provide pastoral care is neither caring nor pastoral. Only what is true can ultimately be pastoral. The neglect of the Church’s position prevents homosexual men and women from receiving the care they need and deserve.

Therefore special concern and pastoral attention should be directed toward those who have this condition, lest they be led to believe that the living out of this orientation in homosexual activity is a morally acceptable option. It is not.