Image Courtesy of NBC
By Franchetta Groves
Pope Francis stirred up a passionate response from many religious and secular individuals in a recent comment regarding same-sex civil unions on October 21. In a recent documentary titled “Francesco,” the pope speaks on how civil unions are necessary to cover same-sex couples and offer them protection under the law.
“Homosexual people have the right to be in a family, they are children of God,” commented Pope Francis in the documentary. “You can’t kick someone out of a family nor make their lives miserable for this, what we have to have is a civil union law; that way they are legally covered.”
This is in stark contrast to the Catholic Church’s teachings from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), which previously has said that ”respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behavior or to legal recognition of homosexual unions.” The Vatican has remained consistent in teaching that any recognition of same-sex civil unions opposes biblical teachings.
Pope Francis’ comments indicate that while he may support same-sex civil unions, he differentiates this from the institution of marriage. In previous history, Francis opposed the legalization of same-sex marriage when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires in 2010.
The “Francesco” documentary was released on October 25 at the Savannah Film Festival and covers Pope Francis’ journey as well as many issues which he is most passionate about. Among the topics discussed were racism, sexual abuse, and the environment. However, Francis’ comments regarding same-sex civil unions are proving to be some of the most controversial elements of this documentary.
The topic of homosexuality and gay marriage is touched on again in the documentary when it follows the life of Andrea Rubera, a gay man who lives in Rome with his partner and their three adopted children. The couple wished to raise their children as Catholic reached out to Francis, who responded with words of encouragement.
This is not the first time that Pope Francis has made what some have found to be controversial statements regarding homosexuality. In 2013, just four months after he was elected Pope, he made an offhanded remark to a reporter when asked about homosexuality saying, “If someone is gay and is searching for the Lord and has a goodwill, then who am I to judge him?”
Some believe that because the Pope’s comments have been unclear and have led to confusion about what the Catholic Faith and the Vatican teach regarding homosexuality and same-sex marriage.
“Unfortunately, the recent comments by the Holy Father have cast confusion in the Church and the world, and do have repercussions. I think now people are looking more into what the Church teaches and that is good,” commented junior Thomas Dompkowski, “However, the Holy Father’s comments do directly contradict previous Church teaching on this matter. The Church teaches what she does on marriage and people with same-sex attraction because she loves her people. She does not hate them or want them to feel inferior.”
Other students, however, feel that the Pope’s comments are a step in the right direction for equality, but that there is still more work to be done. “We are very hopeful with the statement Pope Francis made last week on LGBT+ Civil Unions, but understand that there is still a lot of work to be done. The LGBT+ community all over the world and on our campus have suffered from exclusion and, though this is a step in the right direction, we cannot rest on our laurels here or give up the fight for equality,” commented members of the e-board from CUA Allies, “This statement shows that Pope Francis accepts us into the Catholic community and finally sees us for who we are, regular people who deserve love and respect.”