Pope Francis’ controversial support for same-sex civil unions has found its fair share of critics in the United States.
During a papal interview in a documentary called “Francesco,” the pope speaks about a need for a “civil union law,” which he says creates a legal cover for such arrangements.
“Homosexuals have a right to be a part of the family,” the pope reportedly said. “They’re children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out, or be made miserable because of it.”
The civil union law would cover same sex marriages legally, he said.
While some catholic leaders have applauded the move, more have – expectedly – decried the decision, with some calling for clarity but others outright saying the informal statement is “inadmissible.”
Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, R.I., was one of the first leaders to come out with a public criticism of the pope’s statements.
“The Pope’s statement clearly contradicts what has been the long-standing teaching of the Church about same-sex unions,” Tobin said in a statement. “The Church cannot support the acceptance of objectively immoral relationships.”
Ed Mechmann, an official spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York, wrote a direct rebuke of the pope’s statement in a piece called “Dealing with Papal Mistakes.”
“This is really important, because like every other human being, popes make mistakes,” Mechmann wrote. “I think it’s fair to say that every single pope who ever lived has made mistakes. Nobody is error free.”
He cited the Catholic Catechism, which states that homosexual acts are immoral and can never be justified.
“It is also Church teaching that ‘there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family.’”
Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley dismissed the comments, saying that the comments are not “an endorsement of homosexual activity.”
“Just as the Church does not campaign against civil laws that allow for common-law marriage or second marriages that are not sacramental, even though such arrangements can be in violation of the laws of the Church, the Holy Father recognizes that in civil society there can be cogent reasons to enact such laws providing for civil unions, which are not the same as the institution of marriage,” O’Malley said in a statement.
The cardinal added that Pope Francis has previously supported civil unions as “a way for governments to provide protections and health care for couples in long-term, committed relationships … such arrangements are not always of a sexual nature.”
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