Asst. News Editor
Pope Francis has recently shown outward support for same-sex civil unions within the Catholic church. In a newly released documentary, “Francesco” which was shown at the Roman Film Festival, Pope Francis affirmed that members of the LGBTQ+ community are children of God. He asserted, “What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered.”
The views of Pope Francis on gay marriage differ greatly from those of his predecessors. The Catholic Church traditionally views same-sex marriage and homosexuality as a sin. Pope Francis’s predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, claimed that gay marriage and abortion were ‘anti-christian.’ The former Pope also asserted that LGBTQ people should not see further civil rights protections as he did not consider them to be discriminated against.
Pope Francis’s previous comments regarding gay marriage have been conflicting. Prior to becoming Pope, then Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, strongly opposed a bill that would allow same-sex marriages in Argentina. However, following his election in 2013, the Pope spoke several times urging members of the Catholic church to welcome people regardless of sexual orientation. In July of that year, he stated, “If someone is gay and is searching for the Lord and has goodwill, then who am I to judge him? The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this in a beautiful way, saying: 'no one should marginalize these people for this, they must be integrated into society.” The was the first time a pope used the word “gay” in public and openly welcomed gay people into the church.
LGBTQ+ activists say newfound recognition of gay people within the church is groundbreaking and shows reform and progress. These remarks have shocked priests and bishops around the world, for many have alternative beliefs to those of the Pope. Some church leaders have considered the statements made by Francis as a “reversal of the teachings of the church,” but the Pope sees otherwise. He said that gay people are too children of God and deserve to be legally recognized as such. He additionally made the statement that he is proud of his non-traditional beliefs and intends to keep standing up for the gay community within the church. Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, R.I. states that “The pope’s statement clearly contradicts what has been the longstanding teaching of the church about same-sex unions. His remarks need to be clarified.”
While the Pope has continuedto show outward support for same-sex couples, he yet has to make any policy changes within the bylaws of the church itself. Reverend Antonio Sapiro, a priest and close friend of Francis statedthat his remark “in no way affects the doctrine,” meaning that gay marriage is technically still not permitted within the Catholic Church. Allies of the Pope and the Catholic Church support Francis’sremarks but have yet to say what they think the next step he will take is.