Pope calls for legal protections for gay couples

Pope calls for legal protections for gay couples October 21, 2020

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ROSARY beads must be working overtime in conservative Catholic circles since Pope Francis made clear in a new documentary that he believes  gay couples deserve legal protections for their relationships.

The filmmaker, Evgeny Afineevsky, asked Francis during an interview for the documentary about the place of LGBT Catholics in the church. Francis re-emphasised his belief that they should be made to feel welcome.

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.  That way they are legally covered. I stood up for that.

While, no doubt, there will be much gnashing and wailing of teeth among conservative homophobes, the National Catholic Reporter rushed to assure it readers that the Pope’s views on the subject have been known for years:

Although the EWTN-owned Catholic News Agency reported that Francis’ words were a ‘departing’ from his previous teachings, the pontiff has previously spoken in favor of civil unions at least twice as a way to differentiate between Catholic marriage and relationships recognized by state authorities.

Mark Lowen, the BBC’s Rome correspondent, added:

The remarks have set tongues wagging among Vatican-watchers – and they mark Francis’s clearest support for the issue since becoming Pope.

But is this really a fundamental change by the pontiff  – or more an off-the-cuff statement by a leader of the Catholic Church who has been known to flirt with liberal sentiments in the past, only to fall back on traditional doctrine when push comes to shove?

As archbishop of Buenos Aires before becoming Pope, he was a staunch opponent of gay marriage, which was legalised in Argentina in 2010, and instead advocated civil unions for homosexual couples.

This is his first vocal backing as Pope – and will undoubtedly be welcomed by many on the more liberal wing of the church and criticised by the conservatives.

But any significant doctrinal change on such an issue would typically be presented in a more formal way and after much internal debate. There is, for now, little sign that either is imminent.

The news was welcomed by the UK-based Ozanne Foundation, chaired by the Bishop of Liverpool, Rt Revd Paul Bayes and the Vice Chair, the Dean of St Paul’s, Very Revd Dr David Ison.

We warmly welcome the recognition by His Holiness, Pope Francis, that same-sex couples need recognition under the law, thus giving them and their children protection. This will bring hope to millions of lesbian and gay couples around the world, and will enable them to know that they have the Pope’s blessing to be in a family, and indeed to have a right to a family.

His words of comfort show a deep pastoral understanding of the pain that many LGBT have gone through, and provide a significant challenge to all those who see their faith as a reason to discriminate against LGBT people.

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Jayne Ozanne, above, added in an email to me this evening:

Fr James Martin, a Jesuit priest and author of Building a Bridge (about LGBTQ Catholics) with whom we work closely, has also said: ‘This is a major step forward in the Catholic Church’s relationship with the LGBTQ community.  It shows Pope Francis’s overall pastoral and sensible approach to LGBTQ people, and it also sends a clear message to those bishops who have opposed such laws.’

The film, Francesco, also focuses heavily on human rights, an issue Mr. Afineevsky covered in his previous films, including the 2017 documentary Cries from Syria about the country’s devastating civil war. In a section on the rights of migrants, Francis said:

It’s cruelty, and separating kids from parents goes against natural rights. It’s something a Christian cannot do.

He condemned the Trump administration’s child separation policy at the US-Mexico border, saying

It’s cruelty of the highest form.

Afineevsky told America creating his film about the civil war in Syria felt like a “journey into the darkest side of today’s humanity” and that he wanted his next project to focus on love and light. A friend suggested he profile Pope Francis, and though he is Jewish. Afineevsky was intrigued by the idea, drawn by the pope’s interfaith outreach.

Pope Francis embraces humanity. That’s what this movie teaches, the importance of being united, of being kind, of spreading love.

Image via YouTube

Update 22.10.20: Contemptuously referring to the Pope only by his given name – Jorge Mario Bergoglio – Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, above, former papal nuncio to the US and a man greatly admired by Donald Trump, lashed out at Francis in a piece penned for far-right Christian website, LifeSiteNews.

In it his writes:

It appears that Bergoglio is impudently trying to ‘raise the stakes’ in a crescendo of heretical affirmations, in such a way that it will force the healthy part of the Church – which includes bishops, clergy, and faithful – to accuse him of heresy, in order to declare that healthy part of the Church schismatic …

And:

It is not surprising that in the documentary there is also an endorsement of the Democratic candidate in the upcoming American presidential election, along with a disconcerting condemnation of the policy of the Trump Administration, which is accused of separating families that want to enter the United States illegally, while the reality is that the President is confronting human trafficking and the trafficking of minors.

Thus, while conservative American bishops are forbidden from intervening in the political debate in support of President Trump, the Vatican allows itself to casually interfere in the elections in favor of his Democratic adversary, in union with the censorship by social and news media of the very serious accusations against the Biden family …

As Catholics, we are called to side with those who defend life, the natural family, and national sovereignty. We thought that we had the Vicar of Christ at our side. We painfully acknowledge that, in this epochal clash, he who ought to be guiding the Barque of Peter has chosen to side with the Enemy, in order to sink it.

Hat tip: BarrieJohn

• Please report any typos/errors to barry@freethinker.co.uk

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