Bishops endorse civil unions stand by Pope Francis

Pope Francesco poster2

Pope Francis was widely quoted this week supporting same-sex civil unions –– which have been available in Aotearoa New Zealand since 26 April 2005. This is a comment on the pope's statement by Bishop Patrick Dunn, Bishop of Auckland and President of the NZ Catholic Bishops’ Conference:

“I endorse the reported comments of Pope Francis. I know that he is anxious for LGBTQ people to know that they are valued members of the family of the Church as they are of their own families. We want their happiness, and for them to know that they are loved.”

Pope Francis's reported remarks were in a new documentary film, Francesco, about his life and teachings.

Pope Francis's reported remarks were from a new documentary film, Francesco, about his life and teachings. The full quote is (translated from the Spanish the Pope used): “Homosexual people have a right to be in a family. They’re children of God, have the right to a family. You can’t kick someone out of a family, nor make their life miserable for this. What we have to have is a civil union law; they have the right to be legally covered.”

It has since been revealed that the Pope made those comments in 2019 to a Mexican journalist but they were not published at the time. Documentary maker Evgeny Afineevsky used them in his production.

Read a Crux Now article on the Pope's comments.  Read a Vatican News article about the documentary.

Update: Bishop Pat issued the following additional comment on 5 November:

The Vatican Secretariat of State has issued a notice clarifying comments made by Pope Francis about civil unions reported in the 2019 documentary Francesco.   

This documentary has fused together the responses made by Pope Francis on two earlier occasions, but without providing the context for the questions and the responses. In a 2014 interview with the newspaper Corriere della Sera, Pope Francis had made very clear the point that “marriage is between a man and a woman”.

When the Holy Father said gay people have a right to be valued members of their family, and that gay couples needed some form of civil law to protect their rights, he was not advocating any form of “marriage”.

A subsequent question in the same interview was asking Pope Francis about his stance ten years previously when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires, and Argentina was proposing to legalise same-sex marriages.  He said that, while opposed to same-sex marriages, he did acknowledge the right of homosexual people to be legally protected.  As an alternative, he supported the notion of a civil union: “what we have to do is a union law, that way they are legally covered”.

The Secretariat of State’s notice said: “It is clear that Pope Francis was referring to particular state regulations, certainly not the doctrine of the church, which he has reaffirmed numerous times over the years.”