In a new documentary, Pope Francis has called for the creation of civil union laws for same-sex couples, in remarks that break from the Catholic Church’s official teaching and mark his clearest support to date for the issue.
Everyone else reports it too – just google “Pope civil unions” and you’ll see it’s all over the internet today.
My brief commentary:
- We learned in 2013 that this had been his position within the Argentinian bishops’ conference, where he didn’t prevail. The news here is that he still holds this position and is now stating it clearly as pope.
- The backlash will be, and already is, fierce. Some Catholics will be gravely disappointed that he’s going against the position of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (long led by Josef Ratzinger/Benedict XVI). I’m sure many gay-rights advocates, though, will be bitter that he’s advocating a half-measure that falls short of full equality. For such people, it is absolutely unacceptable to settle for gradual progress. Pray for Pope Francis.
- Of liturgical interest – this is Pray Tell’s beat – is whether the Church can bless such same-sex civil unions if she approves of their legality. I suppose there will be an increase in Catholic clergy performing such blessings, and today’s news makes it a bit more difficult to stop them.
- Bottom line: Christianity and modernity are locked in a highly complex relationship that will continue to wreak havoc for the churches and exacerbate their identity crises. (This has been going on for centuries – think of the popes’ abysmal failure in the 19th century to prevent the fall of the Papal States, and the marked evolution in the Catholic church’s official position on political questions over the succeeding century or so.) It’s hard to make sense of a revolution when you’re in the middle of it. No use complaining about all this – God calls us to do our best to be faithful precisely in this time and place. Buckle your seatbelts, prepare for a rocky ride, and strive to remain peaceful, prayerful, and charitable to your fellow Christians who hold a variety of views.