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VATICAN CITY, October 26, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – In the wake of the confusion surrounding Pope Francis’s recent comments on same-sex unions, the Vatican Communications department has ordered its journalists not to mention anything about the documentary.

Il Fatto Quotidiano reported on Thursday, that they had received an email from the editorial directors of the Vatican Dicastery for Communication, signed by Massimiliano Menichetti, the head of Radio Vaticana – Vatican News.

The email reads:

Good day everyone, in reference to the uproar stirred up by the film ‘Francesco’ by the Russian director Evgeny Afineevsky, for now we are not coming out with ANY news, either on the radio or on the web. Nothing also about the film or the award given today in the Vatican.

There is an active discussion about how to address the current media crisis. A statement from the Press Office is not excluded. Please report to me if you can, both in the middle of the day and at the end of the day, any reactions from listeners and followers. It is not necessary to send me the actual comments, it’s enough to send me two lines summarizing it. Thank you, Massimiliano Menichetti.

The email would perhaps serve to explain the Vatican media blackout which has been in place since the news broke on Wednesday about the Pope’s comments in the documentary, FrancescoAmerica magazine noted that the Vatican Press Office has remained quiet “only because it knows that this is what the pope wants.”

Despite this directive to the Vatican press, the Pope showed his approval by giving an audience to the film’s director Evgeny Afineevsky, in the Paul VI Hall before the normal Wednesday general audience.

Francesco was then shown at the Rome Film Fest, an event directed by Antonio Monda, the brother of L’Osservatore Romano editor, Andrea Monda. The film even received the “Kinéo Movie for Humanity Award,” which is awarded to those who “promote social and humanitarian themes.” The ceremony was held in the Vatican gardens.

However, questions have arisen surrounding the actual context of the Pope’s statements in the documentary and how Afineevsky, himself a homosexual, came across such footage.

In 2017 Afineevsky had asked then-head of Vatican Communications, Monsignor Dario Vigano, if he could make a documentary about the Pope. When Vigano resigned after tampering with a letter from Pope Benedict XVI concerning Pope Francis, his replacement Paulo Ruffini allowed Afineevsky to continue with his project and have access to the Vatican television archives.

America magazine reported that Afineevsky wished to conduct a personal video interview with the Pope, but was denied. Nevertheless, with his access to the archives, Afineevsky discovered unedited footage of a 2019 interview the Pope gave to Valentina Alexraki for Mexico television, Televisa.

That interview had been conducted using Vatican cameras and the resulting footage remained the property of the Vatican, who edited the content before releasing it back to Televisa.

America stated that “the Vatican did not edit or remove any part of what Francis said in the interview without his prior agreement.”

However, Afineevsky was able to use the unedited version of the Televisa interview, and seemingly selectively compiled the answers to different questions, to use in his film. Whilst Afineevsky originally claimed that the Pope’s comments on same-sex unions were from an interview he conducted, it later emerged that he had in fact used the footage from the Televisa interview.

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Remarks attributed to Pope Francis (and, not denied by the Vatican) in support of homosexual civil unions have caused grave scandal to the faithful.

Please SIGN this urgent petition which asks Pope Francis to clarify and rectify these heterodox and scandalous remarks on homosexual civil unions, and which will be delivered both to the Vatican and to the Papal Nuncio of the United States (the Pope's official representative in the U.S.).

As the last guarantor of the Faith, the Pope should clarify and rectify these remarks, which go against the perennial teaching of the Church, even including the teaching of his living predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

"What we have to create is a law of civil coexistence [meaning civil union law, for homosexuals]...," Pope Francis is reported to have remarked, in what is arguably his clearest statement of public support for a practice morally prohibited by official Catholic Church teaching.

In fact, the Church has been crystal clear in Her opposition to homosexual unions.

Just in 2003, Pope Saint John Paul II approved a document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, titled 'Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions between Homosexual Persons' and written by Cardinal Ratzinger (now, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI), which concludes with the following:

"The Church teaches that respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behaviour 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 behaviour, 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."

It could not be more clear: the Church is calling people to repentance, not to be left to indulge in grave sin.

Since becoming public, several senior prelates as well as other notable Catholic figures have voiced their opposition to these remarks attributed to the Pontiff.

Cardinal Raymond Burke stated: "It is a source of deepest sadness and pressing pastoral concern that the private opinions reported with so much emphasis by the press and attributed to Pope Francis do not correspond to the constant teaching of the Church, as it is expressed in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition."

Cardinal Gerhard Müller commented: "Where there is tension between the plain and obvious Word of God and the infallible interpretation on the one hand, and private expressions of opinion even by the highest church authorities on the other, the principle always applies: in dubio pro DEO [When in doubt, be in favor of God]."

And, Catholic theologian and apologist Scott Hahn, without directly quoting Pope Francis, shared on Facebook the 'Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons,' published by the CDF in 1986, with the statement: "Holy Father, respectfully and humbly, I beg to differ... if that is indeed what you said. In any case, please clarify and rectify your statement, especially in view of the official teaching of our Lord through the magisterium of His Church."

But, the silence from the Vatican has been deafening, with no clarification forthcoming.

We must, therefore, ask the Pope for clarification in this serious matter.

Please SIGN and SHARE this petition which asks Pope Francis to clarify and rectify remarks attributed to him in support of homosexual civil unions.


'Cdl. Burke: Pope’s homosexual civil union remarks ‘contrary’ to Scripture, Tradition' -

'Cardinal says Catholics ‘can and should’ disagree with Pope’s ‘opinion’ on gay civil unions' -

'Archbishop Vigano, Bishops Tobin and Strickland respond to Pope’s approval of homosexual civil unions' -

'Pope’s comments on gay civil unions cause shockwaves around the world' -

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In light of the news of the Pope’s support for same-sex unions, Father Antonio Spadaro, editor of Jesuit magazine La Civiltà Cattolicareferred back to the Televisa interview: “Thus there is nothing new. We are talking about an interview that was already given some time ago that was already passed on by the reception of the press.”

These words of the Pope from the documentary are not found in the official transcript of the Televisa interview: “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. What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered. I stood up for that.”

Whilst the Vatican Press department had edited the remarks about same-sex unions out of the Televisa interview, as was custom in accord with the Pope’s wishes, America sourced the unedited version.

Regarding the phrase of civil unions, the relevant passage is drawn from an answer to whether he had become more liberal on the subject of same-sex unions. Pope Francis said, “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.” This answer was not contained in the edited version of the interview.

Confusion about the comments in Francesco remains, yet neither the Vatican Press Office nor the Pope have responded to requests or demonstrations asking for clarity.

However, it seems that the Pope had already seen the film with Afineevsky in August, with the director showing the Pope his work on his iPad. After having seen the film, Pope Francis still gave his approval to Afineevsky in the private meeting on October 21.

Commenting on the event, Damian Thompson, Associate Editor of The Spectatorclaimed that the Pope had outwitted the Vatican Press office: “It was the Pope who backed gay civil unions, outmanoeuvring his own press office (who had tried to kill the story) and humiliating orthodox papalators. There is no longer a single Catholic narrative on this topic – exactly what he intended.”


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