A homosexual couple in the rain © Twinsterphoto (shutterstock)
A few weeks ago, Pope Francis' statements on homosexual unions caused lively discussions and some interpretations. Now the Vatican is trying to regain the sovereignty of interpretation.
A circular from the Secretariat of State to bishops worldwide said the quotes in question in a documentary were taken out of context. Church teaching remains unchanged. The letter was apparently sent to nunciatures for forwarding to bishops. The pope's ambassador to Mexico, Archbishop Franco Coppola, published it on Facebook over the weekend.
Interview statements on different facts
In the documentary "Francesco" by Russian director Yevgeny Afineyevsky, the pope declares that homosexuals have "the right to be in a family". Immediately afterward, Francis spoke out in favor of a state legal framework for civil partnerships. The papal statements in this combination elicited some encouragement, including from conservative bishops, but also calls for clarification.
The letter from the Secretariat of State, which is not signed by name, states that the two statements in the interview were directed at different ies. The first part refers to the fact that within a family children with homosexual orientation must not be discriminated against. The subject of the second statement, according to the Vatican, was a proposed Argentine law ten years ago for marriage equality for homosexual couples.
References to the express wish of the Pope
Francis opposed same-sex marriage at the time, but advocated legal protection for such unions. The Vatican circular cites a 2014 interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, in which Francis makes the same point. The Secretariat of State emphasizes that the guidance now given for an "appropriate understanding" of the Pope's words was given at the express request of the head of the Church.
The Vatican has not yet ied a public statement on the quotes. The Vatican media apparatus, which had previously referred positively to the documentary, refrained from further coverage.