“Francesco,” a newly released documentary on the life and ministry of Pope Francis, has made global headlines, because the film contains a scene in which Pope Francis calls for the passage of civil union laws for same-sex couples.
Some activists and media reports have suggested that Pope Francis has changed Catholic teaching by his remarks. Among many Catholics, the pope’s comments have raised questions about what the pope really said, what it means, and what the Church teaches about civil unions and marriage. CNA looks at those questions.
What did Pope Francis say about civil unions?
During a segment of “Francesco” which discussed Pope Francis’ pastoral care of Catholics who identify as LGBT, the pope made two distinct comments.
He said first that: “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 not elaborate on the meaning of those remarks in the video, Pope Francis has spoken before to encourage parents and relatives not to ostracize or shun children who have identified as LGBT. This seems to be the sense in which the pope spoke about the right of people to be a part of the family.
Some have suggested that when Pope Francis spoke about a “right to a family,” the pope was offering a kind of tacit endorsement of adoption by same-sex couples. But the pope has previously spoken against such adoptions, saying that through them children are “deprived of their human development given by a father and a mother and willed by God,” and saying that “every person needs a male father and a female mother that can help them shape their identity.”
On civil unions, the pope said that: “What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered.”
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