Dhe Vatican has made it clear that the recently publicized statements by Pope Francis through same-sex partnerships did not change the negative attitude of the Catholic Church towards homosexuality. It is “obvious that the Pope referred to certain state regulations, but certainly not to the Church’s teaching, which he has affirmed many times in recent years,” says a letter that the State Secretariat apparently sent to the Apostolic Nuncio for forwarding to all Catholic Bishops’ Conferences worldwide.
At the same time, the Vatican indicated that they were out of context statements from a previous interview. The text of the letter was published on Twitter by the Apostolic Nuncio in Mexico, Archbishop Franco Coppola.
Statements from 2019
In a documentary by Russian director Yevgeny Afineevsky, which was shown two weeks ago at a film festival in Rome, Francis says: “Homosexuals have the right to live with a family”. They too are children of God, they should not be “thrown out”. Then follows the sentence: “What we need is a law that enables civil partnership. That’s what I campaigned for. “
It was the first time that a Pope advocated civil law recognition of same-sex partnerships. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had expressly rejected such recognition in 2003 under its then Prefect, Jospeh Cardinal Ratzinger. According to Catholic teaching, homosexual acts are “not to be approved” because they violate divine law. However, homosexuals must not be discriminated against.
The Vatican has now informed the bishops that these are two statements from an earlier interview with the Pope that he conducted in 2019 with the Mexican television channel Televisa. The two sentences originally came from different contexts, but were merged into one answer in the documentary. That caused confusion.
Which family do you mean?
According to the Vatican, the sentence about the right to a family refers in its original context to the fact that homosexuals should not be discriminated against by their family. In this sense, Francis had expressed himself in 2016 in his letter “Amoris laetitia”. The sentence about legal recognition was therefore in another part of the interview, in which it was about the rejection of a law on the equality of homosexual partnerships with marriage in Argentina in 2010. Today’s Pope and then Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, had rejected this law at the time.
In the interview, Francis said that it was “incompatible” to speak of same-sex marriage. Then, according to the Vatican, the sentence about the legal recognition of same-sex partnerships was used that appears in the documentary. The Catholic News Service, the news agency of the American Episcopal Conference, who has the original version of the 2019 interview, presented a congruent reconstruction.
Censored by the Vatican
The Vatican leaves open the question of why the papal statement on homosexual partnerships was not included in the version of the interview published in 2019 with the Mexican television station. The Mexican broadcaster had announced that the final version of the interview came from the Vatican. Apparently the Vatican had censored this statement. It also remains open whether the Vatican has knowingly approved the Pope’s statement or whether he did not know that it was contained in the material that the Russian director had viewed in the Vatican. The Vatican only states that the indications for an “appropriate understanding” of the words of the Pope were given at the express request of Francis.