The Vatican offered nuance to Pope Francis’ recent, widely-criticized remarks regarding same-sex civil unions, claiming that they were taken out of context and were not intended to change Church teaching.
“More than a year ago, during an interview, Pope Francis answered two different questions at two different times that, in the aforementioned documentary, were edited and published as a single answer without proper contextualization, which has led to confusion,” a statement from the Vatican’s secretary of state said in part, according to a Facebook post that Archbishop Franco Coppola made Sunday.
The pope sparked a backlash when he was quoted in “Francesco,” a film about his life and ministry that premiered at the Rome Film Festival on Oct. 21, in which he said, “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.”
“What we have to create is a civil union law,” the pope added. “That way they are legally covered. I stood up for that.”
The secretary of state’s statement continued in part, via translation:
Some claims, contained in the documentary “Francisco” by screenwriter Evgeny Afinevsky, have sparked various reactions and interpretations in past days. Therefore some useful elements are offered, with the desire to favor an appropriate understanding of the words of the Holy Father[.]
More than a year ago, during an interview, Pope Francis answered two different questions at two different times that, in the aforementioned documentary, were edited and published as a single answer without proper contextualization, which has led to confusion. The Holy Father had first made a pastoral reference about the need for a son or daughter with homosexual guidance to never be discriminated against within the family.
They refer to the words: “Gay people have the right to be in family; they are children of God, they are entitled to a family. You can’t kick anyone out of family or make life impossible for that reason.”
The post went on to delineate the difference between showing acceptance toward people with homosexual inclinations and affirming homosexual behavior, which the Catholic Church has historically maintained is sinful.
The pope’s comments were rebuked by both Catholics and Protestants alike, who claimed he was confusing people about the historical Christian position on sexuality. As The Daily Wire reported:
Evangelist Franklin Graham and other Protestant leaders hit out against recent comments Pope Francis made that seemingly endorsed civil union laws for same-sex couples.
“The news has reported that Pope Francis said in a new documentary that ‘homosexuals have a right to be part of the family’ and is calling for civil union laws for same-sex couples,” Graham wrote in part on a Facebook post. “I find these comments from the Pope unthinkable in light of the Word of God.”
“For Pope Francis to attempt to normalize homosexuality is to say that Holy Scriptures are false, that our sins really don’t matter, and that we can continue living in them,” Graham continued.
A cardinal also publicly condemned the pope’s position:
Several Roman Catholic prelates either denounced or attempted to clarify comments Pope Francis made this week that endorsed civil union laws for same-sex couples.
Cardinal Raymond Burke, an American who has before described homosexual relationships as “profoundly disordered and harmful,” said in a statement: “Such declarations generate great bewilderment and cause confusion and error among Catholic faithful, inasmuch as they are contrary to the teaching of Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition.”
“They cause wonderment and error regarding the Church’s teaching among people of good will, who sincerely wish to know what the Catholic Church teaches,” Burke further described the papal comments. “They impose upon pastors of souls the duty of conscience to make fitting and necessary clarifications. The context and the occasion of such declarations make them devoid of any magisterial weight. They are rightly interpreted as simple private opinions of the person who made them.”
“These declarations do not bind, in any manner, the consciences of the faithful who are rather obliged to adhere with religious submission to what Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, and the ordinary Magisterium of the Church teach,” Burke added.
Related: ‘Unthinkable’: Franklin Graham, Evangelical Leaders Push Back Against Pope’s Same-Sex Civil Union Comments