News media are reporting that Pope Francis has "approved" or "recognized" civil unions in his just-published interview in Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera. I don't see that approval here in his comments, do you?
Corriere della Sera: Many countries regulate civil unions. Is it a path that the Church is able to understand? But to what end point?
Pope Francis: Matrimony is between a man and a woman. The lay states want to justify civil unions to regulate different situations of living together, pushed by the need to regulate economic aspects among persons, for example to assure healthcare. They treat arrangements (pacts) of living together of various kinds, of which they did not know to direct in their diverse forms. One needs to see the different cases and evaluate them in their variety."
Molti Paesi regolano le unioni civili. È una strada che la Chiesa può comprendere? Ma fino a che punto?
«Il matrimonio è fra un uomo e una donna. Gli Stati laici vogliono
giustificare le unioni civili per regolare diverse situazioni di
convivenza, spinti dall’esigenza di regolare aspetti economici fra le
persone, come ad esempio assicurare l’assistenza sanitaria. Si tratta di
patti di convivenza di varia natura, di cui non saprei elencare le
diverse forme. Bisogna vedere i diversi casi e valutarli nella loro
Pope Francis states his view, which is the Church's view, on the matter of defining "marriage" or matrimony very clearly: it is between a man and a woman, at the beginning of his answer to the question. His answer is formulated in such a way as to exclude other definitions of marriage, such as between two people of the same sex.
He then goes on to discuss the solutions of the "lay state", or civil government, and "their" solutions to arrangements of living together in order to provide secure health care, among other things. The pope simply states that these living arrangements exist, which are not marriages, and that the civil governments, the "lay state", must find some way to regulate them because of needs like health care.
The Church does not evaluate human relationships in their variety in order to change the definition of marriage but at the same time does not oppose the provision of health care to human persons; this would be absurd. His comments about civil regulation of relationships outside of marriage does not amount to approval or support for civil unions.
A clever bit of writing makes a sensational headline with the use of the words "recognize or "accept". It all hinges on what you mean by the words "accept" or "recognize". That the Holy Father recognizesand accepts that civil unions exist, like the rest of us, is not news. Factual acceptance of civil unions and moral approbation of civil unions, which the media imply, are two very different things.
More media spin.
Link to English translation of the Pope's interview at Zenit.org.
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