Wednesday, March 3, 2021
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Vatican walks back Pope’s comments on civil unions

The Vatican has attempted to clarify comments made by Pope Francis on civil union laws in a recently aired documentary, claiming his apparently supportive remarks were taken out of context.

A new documentary, ‘Francesco’, made headlines last week because it included a remark from the pontiff stating that “homosexual people have a right to be in a family.”

Even though he made clear he was speaking in his own capacity, rather than the Vatican’s, many saw the comments as a sign that the Holy See was departing from its historic stance on homosexuality.

The statement gained instant praise from many,who saw it as an indication of the Vatican’s willingness to modernize, while conservatives wanted the Pope to explain his remarks.

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File photo © REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane
Pope Francis backs same-sex civil unions in major shift on Catholic Church’s stance

In light of the response to the papal remarks aired in the film, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, sent an “explanatory note” to its ambassadors, who shared it, in turn, with religious figures in their respective countries. The document claimed that two quotes had been merged together, obscuring the context and removing the questions in between. The Holy See claims that, in the first half of the quote, the Pope was referring to the right of homosexuals to be accepted by their own families. 

The statement from the Vatican further claimed that the documentary’s director, Evgeny Afineevsky, had removed comments in which the Pope had made clear his opposition to homosexual marriage and was referring only to civil unions. Specifically, it said, a section where Francis had stated, “It is an incongruence to speak of homosexual marriage” was not included in the film.

Cardinal Parolin wrote, “It is clear that Pope Francis was referring to certain state provisions and certainly not the doctrine of the Church, which he has reaffirmed numerous times over the years.” 

Afineevsky has not yet responded to questions about his editing process or the Vatican having refuted the Pope’s statement. 

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