Pope Francis has backed calls that same-sex couples are not equal to straight unions
Pope Francis sparking outrage after claiming the Vatican could not bless same-sex marriage because God “does not and cannot bless sin” has prompted us to look at what he’s previously said about same-sex marriage.
Pope Francis is largely thought of as a progressive pope but what does that actually mean? We decided to zoom in on what he’s said about legal equality between gay and straight couples and assess the situation once and for all.
This comes after his blessing of the Offices Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s ruling on the matter.
It said: “Since blessings on persons are in relationships with the sacraments, the blessing of homosexual unions cannot be considered illicit.
“This is because it would constitute a certain imitation or analogue of the nuptial blessing invoked on the man and woman united in sacrament of Matrimony, while in fact ‘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’.”
It continued: “The Church recalls that God Himself never ceases to bless each of His pilgrim children in this world ... But he does not and cannot bless sin.”
This ruling sparked outrage online and got us to thinking about the things that Pope Francis has said on the matter so without further ado, here we go.
What did he think about it before he was Pope?
Before his appointment as the pontiff, he was known as Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, filling the role of the Archbishop of Buenos Aires. During this time, he was absolutely not an advocate for same-sex marriage. In 2010, he opposed the bill legalised it in his home nation of Argentina.
He wrote a letter of his strong opposition, saying “what is it at stake here is the identity and survival of the family,” and claimed it was a “destructive attempt towards God’s plan.”
What did he say after immediately becoming Pope?
Following his ascension to the head of the Catholic church following Benedict XVI’s abdication in 2013, he said that the Catholic Church ought to welcome and love all people regardless of their sexual orientation. This was considered to be a promising step for Catholicism at the time. He said that “the key is for the church to welcome, not exclude but show mercy, not condemnation”.
However, nothing was mentioned about a change in his views about same-sex marriage.
Are his views on homosexuality positive?
Pope Francis appears to be progressive with his views on homosexuality for a pope, but he still does not view LGBTQ+ relationships in the same way as their heterosexual counterparts. On numerous occasions, he had said he loves homosexuals but does not see their love on an equal footing, both legally and spiritually, according to NBC News.
In 2018, the Vatican released a statement that said “homosexuality is not an illness”. And in 2020, he said to an audience of parents of LGBTQ+ children that “God loves their children as they are”, which is nice but ultimately means nothing without parity with straight people. However, some news outlets, such as The Independent, reported that he had appeared to suggest they could get psychiatric help, which often leads to LGBTQ+ children and teenagers being traumatised.
He has also voiced opposition to the Catholic Church having gay clergy members, sparking outrage with his claim in 2018 that they should be “impeccably responsible” or leave.
What has he done surrounding same-sex marriage?
All of the things reported around Pope Francis’ words and actions has been anti-same-sex marriage. For example, the Bishop of Malta, Charles J Scicluna said that he told him that it was “an anthropological regression” in 2014.
In 2015, Pope Francis told anti-same-sex marriage Slovakian activists to “continue their efforts in defence of the family, the vital cell of society”, according to Buzzfeed News.
Notably, he met with Kim Davis, a clerk from Kentucky who went against a federal order to allow same-sex marriage licenses to be issued. The Vatican then put out a statement saying they were unaware of the international press coverage her refusal gained and did not see this visit as an endorsement of her conduct.
In 2016, following the publication of Amoris Laetitia, he repeated claims to “respect” gay people but said nothing about supporting same-sex marriage. Instead, he made a great effort to point out that heterosexual couples were superior, thus wiping away any respect intended.
What about civil unions?
According to The New York Times, Pope Francis rallied for civil unions during Argentina’s 2010 push for same-sex marriage, and he said that he backed it.
According to The Telegraph, he said we could learn from civil unions in 2014, but nothing concrete or positive came from this attempt.
And in recent comments in the 2020 documentary Francesco, he reportedly said: “What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered”. But the Vatican then sought to row back on these remarks.
So to sum up?
Pope Francis has never been in favour of gay marriage, but his messaging seems to have been very confusing. A lot of his ideas that have been attributed to him are based on rumour, with lots of reporting from off-the-record meetings.
This makes his recent comments opposing the blessing of same-sex unions consistent with over 10 years of documented opposition to gay marriage.
When he was first appointed to the position of Pope his views on homosexuality seemed progressive for a pope, but looking at the history of the Catholic church that does not mean much.
To be honest, it is our opinion that Pope Frances cannot reasonably count himself as an ally to the whole LGBTQ+ community, especially if you judge him by official Vatican communications.