(UPDATED) Has Pope Francis changed Church’s doctrine on Homosexuality?

[The update is below the original post which has not been changed]

First of all, Pope Francis’ remarks that have been recently published by the media are clearly not an act of the Magisterium, but seemingly a response from an interview in a movie/documentary.

The following is what has been published regarding the Pope’s words on this matter:

“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”

I think that we all would agree that all human persons have a right to be part of a family and not to be expelled from it or from society. We all have the dignity of having been created by God in His image and likeness.

Here comes the part that is causing controversy:

“What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered.” 

“I stood up for that” 

We don’t know what type of “civil union law” Pope Francis meant. The whole context of the conversation is not presented (at least as of this writing). 

Now, some critics opine that Pope Francis’ remarks (which, by the way, are not presented in full context in a video) contradict the CDF document called: Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons.

I wouldn’t be so fast to arrive at that conclusion. 

In # 10 we read:

“When legislation in favour of the recognition of homosexual unions is already in force, the Catholic politician must oppose it in the ways that are possible for him and make his opposition known; it is his duty to witness to the truth. If it is not possible to repeal such a law completely, the Catholic politician, recalling the indications contained in the Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae, “could licitly support proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by such a law and at lessening its negative consequences at the level of general opinion and public morality, on condition that his “absolute personal opposition” to such laws was clear and well known and that the danger of scandal was avoided. This does not mean that a more restrictive law in this area could be considered just or even acceptable; rather, it is a question of the legitimate and dutiful attempt to obtain at least the partial repeal of an unjust law when its total abrogation is not possible at the moment.”

If a law in favor of recognition of homosexual unions pretending to make them at the level of “marriage” is already in force and is not possible to repeal such law at the moment, a Catholic legislator could licitly support a proposal that limits the harm of such law. For example, a law where homosexual persons can live as brothers and sisters and receive certain benefits. Such proposal may not be the ideal, but it is aimed at limiting a greater harm where homosexual persons can live as husband and wife. As the CNA article which I’ll post below explains, Pope Francis has said before that he opposes laws that redefine marriage. Our dignity as human persons must be respected but Pope Francis has not said that he approves homosexual acts.

When Pope Francis says “create” it implies “come up with”, “new”, a new civil union law, or a law that was not done before, or a law that has not been talked about before, or a different one.

These types of proposed laws that a Catholic may licitly be in favor of in order to restrict a greater harm are not limited to homosexual unions but can also be applied in other areas of moral issues.

In this context, Pope Francis has not changed Church’s doctrine in the least.

For those who post what the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches on homosexuality (#’s 2357 to 2359), which is fine, do not forget to also post what the same Catechism teaches on Church’s authority:

“The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone….”

Anyone cannot give an AUTHENTIC interpretation, it is SOLELY entrusted to the Magisterium.  It continues:

“Its authority in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ.”  This means that the task of interpretation has been entrusted to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome.” – (# 85).

Is a dogma of Faith that the Church indefectible and that the Pope has the gift of Truth and never-failing faith (Vatican I) (Luke 22:32).  Never means that not even for an instant the Pope can err to a degree of heresy, apostasy, idolatry or any other grave error. 

Have Faith in Christ by having Faith in His Church, a Church where the Vicar of Christ is the visible head.

Recommended article from CNA: What did Pope Francis say about civil unions? A CNA Explainer

(UPDATE BELOW)

—[The following is an update based on my response in the comments section – October 26, 2020]—

Pope Francis’ absolute opposition to homosexual “marriage” is clear and well known. He has clearly taught several times that marriage is between a man and a woman and that we cannot change that [i]. Further, in his magisterial document Amoris Laetitia he taught:

“… 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” – (#251).

In the SAME video (that was edited by the media) the Holy Pontiff also said that it is an incongruence to talk about homosexual marriage (See video [In Spanish] and this article by Fr. Matthew P. Schneider commenting on the video).

Therefore, his proposal of civil cohabitation (convivencia) law (in context for those who have been thrown out of families just for the fact of having homosexual orientation – which is what he was talking about in the video) is not a scandal and cannot remotely be analogous to homosexual “marriage”.

The scandal is not being created by the Pope, but by those bloggers, speakers, especially by the clergy who calumniate the Pope, rash judge him and promote rebellion against the Holy Pontiff.

We have to keep in mind that the Pope is not a next door student to whom we can teach and correct him at every turn. The Pope has the special help of the Holy Spirit when he teaches, even non-infallibly. The following I posted in a different article, but I’ll post it here again with some additions:

It is important to keep in mind that the Holy Father is our teacher. As Pope St. Pius X teaches in his Catechism:

“62 Q. How should every Catholic act towards the Pope?

A. Every Catholic must acknowledge the Pope as Father, Pastor, and Universal Teacher, and be united with him in mind and heart.”

“Every” Catholic. That includes Bishops.

“52 Q. Why is the Roman Pontiff the Vicar of Jesus Christ?

A. The Roman Pontiff is the Vicar of Jesus Christ because He represents Him on earth and acts in His stead in the government of the Church.”

The Holy Father deserves much respect for that. We need to treat him with reverence.

“53 Q. Why is the Roman Pontiff the Visible Head of the Church?

A. The Roman Pontiff is the Visible Head of the Church because he visibly governs her with the authority of Jesus Christ Himself, who is her invisible Head.”

The Popes governs the Church –> With the authority of Jesus Christ Himself.

Anyone who belittles, ridicules, rebels, undermines (and the like) our Universal Teacher, does the same to Jesus Christ.

This goes in line with the teaching of Vatican I that the Pope has the gift of Truth and Never-failing faith. IF the Pope can err gravely to the extent of heresy or the like, then the teaching that “every Catholic MUST acknowledge him as Teacher and be united with him in mind and heart” makes no sense and would be false. Or that the Pope governs the Church “with the authority of Jesus Christ Himself” would be incongruent or false too. Therefore, the teaching that the Pope has the gift of truth and never-failing faith cannot be false in any way, shape, or form.

What about our indulgences? – We have to pray for the Popes’ INTENTIONS in order for us to gain indulgences. It is because the Pope’s intentions cannot err gravely. It is the constant teaching of the Church that we have to pray for the Pope’s intention as a requirement to gain partial or plenary indulgences.

We are not in the position to usurp the Pope’s role.

The Pope can exercise the LIVING Magisterium when he wants and come up with new insights. We should not treat the Magisterium only as a set of texts written previously as if with those previous texts we can undermine the Pope’s role. Christ gave the Pope, and the Pope with the bishops in communion with him, the authority to bind and loose, not just to bind and bind.

Lastly, where is our theological virtue of Faith? – If everything has to be explained to us with clarity, then we would not have Faith at all. Have Faith in what the Church has truly taught regarding the Pope (there are many more teachings on the Pope).

Jesus did not go around explaining every detail about His ministry. He spoke in parables many times. He explained the parables with more detail to His Apostles in private (SOMETIMES, not always), but the rest of His disciples had to live with His the parables that He taught only. When many of His followers were grumbling at His ‘Bread of Life’ discourse (John 6:52 ff), He did not explain with clarity or with every detail what He meant by that. Jesus didn’t respond every question, He didn’t respond at the “What is truth?” question by Pilate.

But in general, we have to have Faith in Christ’s Church. The gates of Hell will not prevail against Her and the only person who holds the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven today is the successor of Peter, Pope Francis.

“The task of interpreting the Word of God authentically has been entrusted solely to the Magisterium of the Church, that is, to the Pope and to the bishops in communion with him – (CCC# 100).

-Francisco Figueroa.

[i] See CNA and Fr. Matthew P. Schneider’s articles linked in this post.

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20 Responses to (UPDATED) Has Pope Francis changed Church’s doctrine on Homosexuality?

  1. Matt Z. says:

    This was a comment on Virgin Most Powerful You Tube Channel by
    Xavier Velasco-Suarez

    “He did not voice his support for same sex marriage. Civil unions are not the same as marriage. I’m from Argentina, which is among the first countries that legalized same sex marriage (by a law of congress, not by Judicial fiat as in the US). Archbishop Bergoglio lobbied fiercely against that law, which he called “a diabolical design”, proposing instead the creation of the legal figure of civil unions. As he, and many good Catholic lawyers in Argentina understood this legal figure, it was not an institution to legalize homosexual behavior. It was conceived as a legal type to protect the rights (like tax status and benefits, social security, health insurance and inheritance rights) of any couple or even groups of peoples that would like to make a commitment of life in common and mutual support. It wasn’t meant as a law exclusive for homosexuals, which is kind of an absurd notion if you think of it, because the state has no jurisdiction over its citizens’ private behavior and inclinations, which would be, on top of that, something really awkward to prove.
    No previous Pope made any statement about civil unions, but only stated the Church’s position toward HOMOSEXUAL UNIONS.”

    I can only take the benefit of the doubt since I trust the Holy Father that he is not in favor of same sex unions but in the political view of it being a lesser evil than same sex marriage or rights such as tax status and benefits for civil unions not homosexual unions in themselves. If that is the case I can only say that I respectfully and humbly disagree with the Holy Father. People that have same sex attraction should not be living together as it would be an occasion of sin for them and scandal for the community and even more so if there is adoption. Fr.Martin has run off with the Popes comments to say the Pope is for civil same sex unions and the media and politicians and liberals have blown this up to say the Pope is for same sex unions and same sex marriage. I hope there is a clarification from the Vatican. This could all be taken out of context as well as we are listening to bits and pieces, Catholics should read CDF Document: “Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons.”

    • In a situation where a person has to choose between one or the other, between a law that produces greater harm than the other, and there is no other way around it (e.g. “it is not possible to repeal the law that produces greater harm completely”) it is licit to choose a law that lessens the evil. In a situation like that, choosing nothing would actually lead to the greater evil to take place. So at least something has to be done in order lessen the evil. It would be great if neither of the non-ideal laws are chosen, of course, but not all circumstances in life allow for that in this fallen world.

      In the cases where same-sex cohabitation had to be tolerated, chastity must also be encouraged.

  2. erm6 says:

    Thanks Francisco for your article.

    Over the course of today, CNA has posted two followup articles that demonstrate how this new movie/documentary took several sentences out of context from an earlier, longer interview, re-ordered them, and omitted other words in between:

    https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/questions-emerge-regarding-pope-francis-statement-on-same-sex-civil-unions-47666

    http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/pope-francis-homosexuality-comments-heavily-edited-in-documentary-no-vatican-comment-on-civil-union-88210

    The following article from Where Peter Is makes a similar point:

    https://wherepeteris.com/those-pope-francis-quotes-video-editing-and-media-controversy-2/

    (I know that Ron’s last post took a hard stance against inaccurate theology that he found elsewhere on Where Peter Is, but this here is a non-theology article that simply conveys some information and thoughts about the audio/video editing issue.)

  3. Sunimal Fernando says:

    1. Why God destroyed Sodom & Gomorrah?
    In Isaiah 24 said , all inhabitants are burned up. Population Will decrease. What happens,if ozone layer destroyed?

    2. Jesus said to check Daniel 11:31.
    Abomination of desolation after stopping daily masses in churches, what they put in tabernacle ? How we respect to Holy Eucharist?
    3. Why pope talk on behalf of homosexual?
    Big evil or less evil , all are Satan’s. We are in Sri Lanka and in Asia no talk on homosexual topic.
    Why USA & Europe go to destroyed by themselves and give power to communism.(China& Russia ) now economically China up & USA down.

    4. Mother Mary said in Garbandal in 1961″ when communism comes again, everything will happen”.
    5. God’s wrath? Mother Mary’s 1917 ,3rd msg in Fatima

    • Nobody here is approving any homosexual act, sodomy, lust, or approving any intrinsically evil act. So all your comment is attacking or questioning something that has not being said or promoted. In the example given above based on the teaching of the CDF, persons living together in chastity (as brothers and sisters) is not intrinsically evil. It would not be the ideal situation for people with homosexual tendencies, I myself don’t like it, but if a law permitting homosexual “marriage” can be avoided with it, then it is licit to support such a proposal aimed at lessening the harm in such circumstances.

      Supporting proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by a law that supports homosexual “marriage” and at lessening its negative consequences at the level of general opinion and public morality is licit. This is the teaching of the CDF document mentioned above. People need to read what is being said instead of posting comments attacking a strawman or putting in question what the Church has already taught (part of the paragraph was even bolded above). No Church’s doctrine has been changed.

  4. Ron Conte says:

    Good article here:
    Pope Francis’s Words on Civil Unions Distorted by Editing
    OCTOBER 22, 2020 BY FR. MATTHEW P. SCHNEIDER, LC
    https://www.patheos.com/blogs/throughcatholiclenses/2020/10/pope-franciss-words-on-civil-unions-distorted-by-editing/

  5. Alex says:

    As I said I will not comment the issue itself, waiting other bishops to speak first (not only Vigano) and the context to be clarified.
    However, I will comment on the timing of that announcement. The media say that the documentary was made year ago with those particular statements cut off. I haven’t seen it.
    Surely there were more convenient and appropriate places and times when the pope could communicate his views, such as the several Synods held in the Vatican. He rather waited that particular moment, and the media ask the reasonable question why, while the Vatican doesn’t say why that timing.

    My suggestion is that is a part of a wider plan much beyond the issue discussed, that envisions major events to happen on earth. How that all fits, well surely the pope knows more than me, and more than Vigano. (It is not all about Vigano, all about the superconservatives to be kicked out as a result of their rejection of civil unions. If the pope wanted he had plenty of occasions when Vigano de facto begged for his excommunication. The pope’s statements on civil unions go far beyond that and reach that terra incognita that the believers were given just a GLIMPSE in prophecies. Notice that the pope and his closest collaborators know the dates of Garabandal events for example (told to St Paul VI).

  6. Alex says:

    Thanks Patrick. Of course I do not know the secret, but seems logical the pope who knows it to make the last attempt to save whoever could still be saved. And btw, the new book published by Sister Lucia’s fellow nuns, “A Pathway Under the Gaze of Mary”, reports Sr Lucia’s vision:

    “”The tip of the spear as a flame unlatches and touches the axis of the earth. It shudders. Mountains, cities, towns, and villages with their inhabitants are buried. The sea, the rivers, and the clouds emerge from their limits, overflowing and bringing with them in a whirlwind houses and people in numbers that are not possible to count. It is the purification of the world as it plunges into sin. Hatred and ambition cause the destructive war!””

    Axis of the earth refers to what we know as a pole shift. When 2012 film was shown (2009) the scene of St Peter’s dome falling upon cardinals and faithful, some ultra conservatives were quick to conclude – the director of the film was anti-catholic! Those people will choose a certain death in the face of a cataclysm of whatever kind (not necessarily St Peter’s dome or Yellowstone, it could be nuclear bombs, small asteroids etc) but they will not admit they are wrong. They are too proud for that, and their proud and its consequence will be their own just punishment. Unfortunately their children whom they know multiply will likely suffer too.

    Why the pope chooses that controversial topic and why now in that controversial period especially for USA, it is not I to say. But it is for a reason.

  7. P. O'Brien says:

    “I think that we all would agree that all human persons have a right to be part of a family and not to be expelled from it or from society.” Disagree. If I had a family member who was aggressive in living and promoting the homosexual agenda, he would not be welcome. “Expelled from society”? As if that were a problem now, when homosexuals are lionized and homosexual behavior is treated as normal. A Christian society would place some kind of social constraints on homosexual behavior, if only not to consider such behavior as normal. Francis is on the wrong side here, as in so many issues.

    • Ron Conte says:

      Where is your faith? If you want to pretend that your opinion on every issues is infallible and the Popes must be wrong whenever they disagree with you, that is not Catholicism. The way this conflict with Francis will be resolved, everyone who rejects the teaching of the Pope will be expelled from the Church as heretics and schismatics. The teaching of the Pope is never gravely wrong. In this case, the Pope has not issued a magisterial decision, but it is not merely a prudential matter, either. We should treat the opinion of any Pope on matters of faith and morals as better than our own because it almost always is. Popes have never failing faith, and the assistance of the Holy Spirit when teaching. If you don’t believe that, stop pretending to be Catholic. Catholics follow the Pope as their Teacher and Shepherd.

  8. Matt Z. says:

    As it says in the Patheos article by Fr.Matthew the Pope is talking about the young who have same sex attraction, that they should not be thrown out of a family. I dont believe he is talking about someone who is a practicing homosexual and causing hell in a family.

    • Yes, the Pope was talking in the context that a person shouldn’t be thrown out of a family just for the fact of having a homosexual orientation. Interestingly, the Pope was also talking about the media taking a word of his and nullify the context or taking it out of context.

  9. Jo says:

    ” on condition that his “absolute personal opposition” to such laws was clear and well known and that the danger of scandal was avoided.”
    I’m looking around and seeing a great number of Catholics scandalized because such a statement did not immediately follow.

    • Pope Francis’ absolute opposition to homosexual “marriage” is clear and well known. He has clearly taught several times that marriage is between a man and a woman. Further, in magisterial document Amoris Laetitia he taught:

      “… 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” – (#251).

      In the SAME video (that was edited by the media) the Holy Pontiff also said that it is an incongruence to talk about homosexual marriage.

      Therefore, his proposal of civil cohabitation (convivencia) law (in context for those who have been thrown out of families just for the fact of having homosexual orientation – which is what he was talking about in the video) is not a scandal and cannot remotely be analogous to homosexual “marriage”.

      The scandal is not being created by the Pope, but by those bloggers, speakers, but especially by the clergy who calumniate the Pope, rash judge him and promote rebellion against the Holy Pontiff.

      We have to keep in mind that the Pope is not a next door student to whom we can teach and correct him at every turn. The Pope has the special help of the Holy Spirit when he teaches, even non-infallibly. The following I posted in a different article, but I’ll post it here again with some additions:

      It is important to keep in mind that the Holy Father is our teacher. As Pope St. Pius X teaches in his Catechism:

      “62 Q. How should every Catholic act towards the Pope?
      A. Every Catholic must acknowledge the Pope as Father, Pastor, and Universal Teacher, and be united with him in mind and heart.”

      “Every” Catholic. That includes Bishops.

      “52 Q. Why is the Roman Pontiff the Vicar of Jesus Christ?
      A. The Roman Pontiff is the Vicar of Jesus Christ because He represents Him on earth and acts in His stead in the government of the Church.”

      The Holy Father deserves much respect for that. We need to treat him with reverence.

      “53 Q. Why is the Roman Pontiff the Visible Head of the Church?
      A. The Roman Pontiff is the Visible Head of the Church because he visibly governs her with the authority of Jesus Christ Himself, who is her invisible Head.”

      The Popes governs the Church –> With the authority of Jesus Christ Himself.

      Anyone who belittles, ridicules, rebels, undermines (and the like) our Universal Teacher, does the same to Jesus Christ.

      This goes in line with the teaching of Vatican I that the Pope has the gift of Truth and Never-failing faith. IF the Pope can err gravely to the extent of heresy or the like, then the teaching that “every Catholic MUST acknowledge him as Teacher and be united with him in mind and heart” makes no sense and would be false. Or that the Pope governs the Church “with the authority of Jesus Christ Himself” would be incongruent or false too. Therefore, the teaching that the Pope has the gift of truth and never-failing faith cannot, in any way, shape or form, be false.

      What about our indulgences? – We have to pray for the Popes’ INTENTIONS in order for us to gain indulgences. It is because the Pope’s intentions cannot err gravely. It is the constant teaching of the Church that we have to pray for the Pope’s intention as a requirement to gain partial or plenary indulgences.

      We are not in the position to usurp the Pope’s role.

      The Pope can exercise the LIVING Magisterium when he wants and come up with new insights. We should not treat the Magisterium only as a set of texts written previously as if with those previous texts we can undermine the Pope’s role.

      Lastly, where is our theological virtue of Faith? – If everything has to be explained to us with clarity, then we would not have Faith at all. Have Faith in what the Church has truly taught regarding the Pope (there are many more teachings on the Pope).

      Jesus did not go around explaining every detail about His ministry. He spoke in parables many times. He explained the parables with more detail to His Apostles in private (SOMETIMES, not always), but the rest of His disciples had to live with His the parables that He taught only. When many of His followers were grumbling at His ‘Bread of Life’ discourse (John 6:52 ff), He did not explain with clarity or with every detail what He meant by that. Jesus didn’t respond every question, He didn’t respond at the “What is truth?” question by Pilate.

      But in general, we have to have Faith in Christ’s Church. The gates of Hell will not prevail against Her and the only person who holds the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven today is the successor of Peter, Pope Francis.

  10. Mary Quinn says:

    Wonderful article, thank you for standing up for truth!

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