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What did Pope Francis say about same-sex unions? Or did he?

OCT 21, 2020: The media all around the world have gone into a frenzy over comments made by Pope Francis in a newly released documentary on his life and ministry which is called Francesco. The media is quoting him as saying he recognises same-sex marriages and is endorsing it. Here’s what New York Times reported.

Clips of the documentary show him speaking in Spanish with subtitles. One clip has him saying: “What we have to create is a civil union law. That they are legally covered.” Another shows him saying: “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.”

CNN even has Christiane Amanpour interviewing a Jesuit priest who is an advocate of LGBTQ, James Martin, saying “He (Pope Francis) may have changed his thinking (regarding LGBT and same sex marriages).” He even went on to say: “He has developed his own doctrine”.

A commentary on Washington Post says: “The recognition, from one of the most prominent and revered figures in the world, underscores the massive global shift in public opinion on gay rights, a transformation that social scientists say is unlike any other of our time. And some experts on public opinion say the pope’s position could help move attitudes toward acceptance in countries where gay rights have lagged.”

This not what Pope Francis said, acccording to Fr Agustino Torres, CFR, He said Pope Francis was “misunderstood, misquoted and misinterpreted”. In a video on his Facebook page. Fr Agustino says the Pope’s subtitles did not correctly show what the pontiff was saying, and that this was a case of lost in translation and made worse with the secular media pouncing on it. Fr Agustino says all this in a video on his Facebook page. (edited for clarity on Oct 24 at 10.15pm in Malaysia)

In a nutshell, the pope was reported to have said that a gay person has a right to be part of a family – he was referring to the family he was born into, not the family that was going to come from a same-sex union. And the pope also said that there needs to be co-existence in society, as all of us in living in a society, and not people of the same sex living together. (this para was added on Oct 23, 3am Malaysian time)

“The Church cannot change revealed truth, The teaching on marriage is a revealed truth given to us by God, we do not have the freedom to change it,” said Fr Agustino, a priest with the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal based in the Bronx, serves the Archdiocese of New York on the Hispanic Advisory Board, founded Corazon Puro, a youth ministry and hosts two EWTN television shows in Spanish.

Catholic News Agency brings in the point about the possibility of the quotes being taken out of context. “While the context of his quotes in the documentary is not fully revealed, and it is possible the pope added qualifications not seen on camera, an endorsement of civil unions for same-sex couples is a very different approach for a pope, one that represents a departure from the position of his two immediate predecessors on the issue.”

And did Pope Francis say anything about same-sex marriages? Catholic News Agency said: “Nothing. The topic of gay marriage was not discussed in the documentary. In his ministry, Pope Francis has frequently affirmed the doctrinal teaching of the Catholic Church that marriage is a lifelong partnership between one man and one woman.”

In 2003, Pope John Paul 11 approved The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that says “respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behaviour or to legal recognition of homosexual unions.” Respect does not equal recognition.

The Archdiocese of Singapore issued a media statement on Oct 23, 2020 and this is an excerpt:
“We have not had an official statement or communication from the Vatican.
We do not know at the moment what the Holy Father actually said in the interview and the context of what he said.Also, any quote from the Holy Father recorded in a documentary is not considered or admissible as an official papal teaching.
At any rate, the Catholic Church’s constant teaching on marriage remains unchanged regardless of a civil union between two persons of the same sex approved by the State.” (added on Oct 23 at 3.15pm in Malaysia)