On Wednesday, quotes from a new documentary came out where Pope Francis seemed to indicate support for civil unions for homosexuals. On Thursday, I posted an article here analyzing this in light of Francis’s prior comments and the interview in question. I proposed that Pope Francis was supporting civil unions instead of or in place of “gay marriage.” Most media was still assuming an absolute approval of civil unions.
Now on Saturday, the full transcript came out. Not only was I right that that the Pope supported them instead of “gay marriage,” I nailed where the quote came from down to the second and almost guessed the intervening text correctly. Let’s look at the quotes. Then look at a few related points.
My Suspicion on Thursday
On Thursday, I wrote:
Pope Francis seems to approve of civil unions in place of “gay marriages” but many might listen to the segment in the documentary and think he approves of them in an absolute way. These two are very different manners of looking at civil unions.
Then looking at the actual text, I added:
I found the transcript and video [note: the video was taken down since Thursday] of the interview in 2019 that the documentary clips are taken from. Both versions of the interview lack a reference to civil unions for homosexuals. It seems most likely it was cut after about 1:00:08. (Thanks to a friend on Twitter for pointing me to the cut.) At this point he is critiquing the problems with “gay marriage,” then there is a cut almost mid-sentence to another topic. I suspect someone asked then that this clip be removed to avoid being taking out of context, but the documentary filmmakers found the unedited video and then took this line out of context. The exact words before the cut are: “I always defended the doctrine, right? Curiously, in the ‘gay marriage’ law, I always defended [doctrine]: ‘gay marriage’ is incongruous.” If the quote above (“What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered.”) came right after or soon after that – especially if proceeded by a phrase like “instead” – it is clear the goal is civil unions instead of “gay marriage.”
This paragraph, where I am admittedly speculating, is almost perfectly accurate.
Full Transcript on Saturday
Gerard O’Connell got the precise transcript for America. (Red is the original 2019 interview and green is the documentary released this week.)
I have always defended the doctrine. And it is curious that in the law on homosexual marriage…. It is an incongruity to speak of homosexual marriage. But what we have to have is a law of civil union (ley de convivencia civil), so they have the right to be legally covered.
You will notice only “but” is not in either. I had guess “instead” which in this context means almost the same thing. We can clearly see Pope Francis is putting these two in opposition. (Side note: Gerald and I translate slightly differently, but this is clearly the same text and I think Gerald’s translation is fine.)
Gerald’s story indicates that cutting out the black and green above would have been with Francis’s permission as “as a matter of general principle, the Vatican did not edit or remove any part of what Francis said in the interview without his prior agreement.”
Also, the same story indicates the documentary filmmaker lied about the context. He claimed it was an interview he conducted when it has been shown to be this 2019 interview for Mexican television.
The Wider Context
Some have surmised that Francis is proposing pushing civil marriages in all countries. It seems clear he is just suggesting civil unions in countries that already have “gay marriage” or look like they may soon get it. His repeated references to civil unions only as an option instead of “gay marriage” over the past decade make this even clearer.
It is also worth noting that the Argentine law on civil unions has nothing about what happens in the bedroom and is open to any two adults living together for an extended period and somehow dependant on each other. One of Francis’s top advisors also indicated that such civil unions “do not in themselves imply sexual relations.” Thus, one can imagine Francis is talking about a civil union in general or specifically a type of civil union that does not imply sex, rather than creating a special category just for romantic homosexual partners.
I hope that all the media outlets who have pushed the narrative that Francis approves of civil unions for homosexual couples absolutely to issue a retraction and clarification. However, I doubt we will be able to explain to everyone what the Pope was saying. Soundbites rule today’s media. And once a story is out of the bag it’s hard to get back in. But please rest assured that Pope Francis is only supporting civil unions as an alternative instead of “gay marriage.” He also thinks that a family is a mom, dad, children, and sometimes extended family. I provided context to show these consistent positions in my previous post, so I won’t repeat it here. Please help explain this to people you know.
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Update: Official Clarification
There was an official clarification along the lines of what I said above. The English version comes from the Papal Nuncio to the USA. I posted it with a slight commentary.