You won’t believe what the Pope just said about civil unions

In a rather astonishing admission, the Pope told an Italian newspaper that while “marriage is between a man and a woman,” he might be okay with civil unions for gay couples.

In an interview with the large Italian daily, Corriere della Sera, Pope Francis talked about why the secular state has a need for civil unions, and seemed to hint that he might, under some circumstances, accept them himself.

Here’s what the Pope said, first in Italian, then translated into English:

Q: Molti Paesi regolano le unioni civili. È una strada che la Chiesa può comprendere? Ma fino a che punto?

A: «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 varietà».

Here it is in English:

Q: Many countries recognize civil unions.  Is this a path the church could understand?  And if so, to what extent?

A: “Marriage is between a man and a woman. The secular states uses civil unions to accomodate various arrangements of living together, driven by the need to regulate the economic relationship between people, such as ensuring health care. These are pacts of coexistence of various kinds, of which I could not identify the different forms. We have to look at different cases and evaluate them in their variety.”

That’s somewhat vague, but it’s not a no.  And it’s coming from a Catholic pope.  Even vague is rather huge when contemplating whether the church could endorse civil unions.

The Pope already had people buzzing about his earlier “who am I to judge?” comments about gay people.  This latest broadside is guaranteed to make conservative heads explode.

Our own Becca Morn did a long think-piece about the Pope’s new tone. In it she wrote:

Pope Francis is not a progressive Catholic, certainly not on social policy.

Francis hasn’t proposed any changes in Church policy on gay or trans issues, contraception, or anything else. In fact, with respect to women’s reproductive freedoms, he earns a big fat goose egg from me.

The American gay publication, the Advocate, named Pope Francis their 2013 person of the year.

The American gay publication, the Advocate, named Pope Francis their 2013 person of the year.

Nevertheless, he’s committed numerous heresies against radical conservatism, and that should pique our interest. Radical conservatives, especially the Tea Party, do not tolerate conservative apostasy, and they’re not terribly thrilled with what Francis has been saying. Their displeasure, if anything, is proof of why we should be paying attention.

Pope Francis suggested that maybe the Church and its clergy and its allies — politicians, pundits, lobbyists, and hangers-on — shouldn’t be so focused on judging and condemning others.

Last July, he was reported as saying, “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” It’s noted that unlike his predecessors (and many American Bishops) who prefer the clinically pejorative term ‘homosexual’, Francis actually used the word ‘gay’ even though the rest of what he said was in Italian….

The American Catholic Church appears to be quite comfortable with its GOP/Tea Party/Ultra-Conservative alliance. Sure, from time to time, the U.S. Bishops will make some noise in opposition to budget cuts that hurt the poor. But as I’ve said, none of their objections rise to the level of threatened withholding of Communion, Excommunication, and/or eternal damnation.

Vote to let women use a safe and legal drug — for contraception and also for other medical needs — and it’s worthy of consignment to Hell. Same thing if you merely vote for a politician you know will vote in favor of gay marriage or gay rights.

On the other hand, we now have a Pope who is saying we shouldn’t be focused on those things at all. That we, if we follow his example, shouldn’t presume to judge others. He even had harsh words for priests who refused to baptize the children of unwed mothers.

He’s not perfect by any means, but Pope Francis has already started to freak out conservative Catholics.  And that by itself gives me cause for hope.


(I’m told that in order to better see my Facebook posts in your feed, you need to “follow” me.)


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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  • Stev84

    They care because the Catholic Church has never and will never be content with applying their rules only to Catholics. They want to impose them on everyone.

  • Indigo

    Thank you, Moderator! I got the comment Donotask wrote in my email, it was horrid! I can only think that he got exactly the opposite of what I intended out of my comment. Or else he wanted to brawl.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Sadly, people don’t read stories when the headline gives them story. Apparently it’s too difficult to click and read a few paragraphs nowadays. Thus, sometimes the headline is going to entice and not tell the story. Media reacts to what the public wants :) Sadly.

  • Silver_Witch

    Seriously you cut-n-paste a bunk story that is actually a post on the Family Research Council (http://www.frc.org/get.cfm?i=is02e3) an organization that is a HATE group has been debunked more than once, like for example here http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-report/browse-all-issues/2010/winter/10-myths

    The reality it that men are the predominate molesters of both boys and girls. So it is not a gay/straight problem – it is a problem with ANY man that forces himself on others, or has any sexual contact with a NON CONSENTING person. Since children by the vary nature of them being children cannot give consent any MAN or WOMAN that has sexual contact with a child is a Pedophile and by law a criminal who should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. This is about MEN and WOMEN that molest children and the fact that they should be prosecuted.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bcrEqIpi6sg Moderator4

    You are banned, Donotask.

  • Donotask

    However, despite efforts by homosexual activists to distance the gay lifestyle from pedophilia, there remains a disturbing connection between the two. This is because, by definition, male homosexuals are sexually attracted to other males. While many homosexuals may not seek young sexual partners, the evidence indicates that disproportionate numbers of gay men seek adolescent males or boys as sexual partners. In this paper we will consider the following evidence linking homosexuality to pedophilia:

    Pedophiles are invariably males: Almost all sex crimes against children are committed by men.

    Significant numbers of victims are males: Up to one-third of all sex crimes against children are committed against boys (as opposed to girls).

    The 10 percent fallacy: Studies indicate that, contrary to the inaccurate but widely accepted claims of sex researcher Alfred Kinsey, homosexuals comprise between 1 to 3 percent of the population.

    Homosexuals are overrepresented in child sex offenses: Individuals from the 1 to 3 percent of the population that is sexually attracted to the same sex are committing up to one-third of the sex crimes against children.

    Some homosexual activists defend the historic connection between homosexuality and pedophilia: Such activists consider the defense of “boy-lovers” to be a legitimate gay rights issue.

    Pedophile themes abound in homosexual literary culture: Gay fiction as well as serious academic treatises promote “intergenerational intimacy.”

    MALE HOMOSEXUALS COMMIT A DISPROPORTIONATE NUMBER OF CHILD SEX ABUSE CASES

    Homosexual apologists admit that some homosexuals sexually molest children, but they deny that homosexuals are more likely to commit such offenses. After all, they argue, the majority of child molestation cases are heterosexual in nature. While this is correct in terms of absolute numbers, this argument ignores the fact that homosexuals comprise only a very small percentage of the population.

  • Donotask

    I had no idea this was a gay site. That explains a lot, but if you Google the statistics, the priests that were done in for their sex crimes admitted to being gay men. Gay men are also twice as likely to be pedophiles. I know this is not what you want to hear, but you can’t change what is already easily accessible online with an engine search. I am sorry. If you are a good person and it doesn’t apply to you, then get angry at the gay men that do this, and the gay priests. Because they tarnish you cause! Don’t get mad at me!

  • Donotask

    Awww, the PC mob stalking mentality. Yep, and that comment garnered lots of “likes” too. Nice try. I live in an all Mexican neighborhood as a matter of fact. I won’t even notice you. Look how much you already got wrong. Has it occurred to you that you may have gotten it wrong with the Catholic issue too?

  • Donotask

    Do your homework! The male priests who were done in for that were primarily gay men! Delusional IDIOT!

  • Donotask

    Lol! Heterosexual men don’t molest boys. Nor are they bisexual, the biggest threat to the gay cause if you are to continue to argue you are born this way, and have no choice as being with the opposite sex would make you ill.

  • Donotask

    You need to Google that. That is a lie. Gay men are twice as likely, and in some cases 3x. That’s why adoption agencies don’t mind gay women, but shy from gay men. However, since they can’t “discriminate” like this, they are forced to include both, or none.

  • Donotask

    That comment was for recent times, and I think you know that. What a weak news site that it must delete my comment. The priests that were doing the child molestation with the alter boys were gay men. If the truth hurts, I’m sorry. But you can’t change it. Get mad at the gay priests for tarnishing the gay reputation. That is the correct stance.

  • Donotask

    The priests that did this were gay men. Just saying.

  • 2karmanot

    The sooner the better.

  • Indigo

    It occurs to me, 24 hours after the fact, that the American bishops have not yet re-interpreted what he said to mean what they want it to mean. I’ve noticed that his remarks are subject to considerable re-explaining to brush away whatever compassionate verbal gesture he might have made because, really, Mammon is Lord and that’s the way it’s going to be. Thank you, American bishops, for all the clarifications.

  • Indigo

    There’s nothing like a Huff-piece, is there?
    ;-)</b.

  • 2karmanot

    True, when it comes to stage-front living the Vatican rocks.

  • Hue-Man

    Highly recommend the recent PBS Frontline documentary “Secrets of the Vatican”. I was going to skip it based on the promos which made it look like a Ratzinger retirement puff piece. Instead, it addresses child abuse by priests, the cover-ups, the Milwaukee cemetery ploy, and the power struggle within the Vatican. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/secrets-of-the-vatican/

    Also at PBS today is this shocking quote about what a great job Joe Rat. and his “Brownie” buddies did on priests assaulting kids: “In one of his first public comments on the issue of clergy sex abuse,
    Pope Francis defended the Catholic Church’s response to the crisis,
    telling an Italian newspaper, “no one else has done more.”” http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/religion/secrets-of-the-vatican/pope-francis-defends-churchs-response-to-clergy-sex-abuse/

    One step forward, 1,000 steps back – the pope’s stance on marriage equality may matter to a handful of catholics but not admitting total failure in protecting thousands if not millions of little kids that have been attacked and silenced is a worldwide shame.

  • nicho

    This is the same guy who last month referred to Franco’s fascist soldiers as “martyrs.” Really? Pope Francis — all PR pushing the same old bullshit.

  • 2patricius2

    I’m pleased with Frances’ softening of tone and position after the long war against LGBT rights and relationships led by JP II and Benedict. His statements have had an impact on pro marriage equality votes in some states in this country. Some Catholic legislators in IL referred to Francis’ comment “who am I to judge” as a factor in their votes for marriage equality.

    Also, what popes say does have an impact on some people. Whether they attack with lies and vitriol or express some sense of understanding makes a difference. I don’t think anyone should be surprised that Francis has not come out in favor of full equality for LGBT people. He was, after all, elected by men who were placed in their positions due to their devotion to the teachings of his predecessors. But he is not judging LGBT people, though his positions are wrong. There is, after all, a big difference between his behavior and that of John Paul and Benedict. There is a big difference between Francis and Scott Lively and people of his ilk.

    For me personally, as a former Catholic, it is a relief to see a pope who has stopped the attacks on LGBT people and who doesn’t hypocritically claim to love us while railing against our rights and our relationships. I always did think that John Paul had some personal issues with homosexuality that made him irrational. And I have always thought that Benedict was repressing his own homosexuality. I don’t think Francis has those same issues. He comes across as a man much more comfortable with his sexuality.

    But ultimately the position of a religious figure should be irrelevant in this issue. Civil recognition and protection of the human rights and equality of LGBT people are the prerogative of secular governments. It is the force of law that we need to enforce our rights, regardless of what Francis or any other religious figure says.

  • Olterigo

    I’d just say that it is precisely because he is a Jesuit that I say we need to wait and see. (After all, it was the Jesuit-founded Fordham University that keeps online “People with a history,” a great repository of rare historical quotes, other info, etc. on LGBTs. Including parts about not too positive Church’s involvement.)

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    I know that technically I can edit my posts…but for some unknown reason, it always wipes out your ad code. Doesn’t matter which browser I use. So I refrain from editing as soon as I hand ‘em over to you.

  • bbock

    John, I think you’ve been reading Huffington Post too much. This is a TERRIBLE headline.

  • BearEyes

    so second class, separate, and unequal status is just fine? business as usual – just spun a little differently.
    I want to hear about Dolan hiding/laundering cemetery funds to avoid payouts so he could declare bankruptcy, documentation about pedo priests covered up or destroyed or hidden to avoid prosecution, the adoption scandals and stolen/sold babies, plus all the rest of the “misdeeds” the RCC has never atoned for.
    They have the nerve to cal themselves transparent? Bullshit!

  • Indigo

    Crossed fingers . . . you’re sure they’re over?

  • cole3244

    i don’t care what the leader of an entity that abuses children has to say about anything.

  • nicho

    Please print this out and give it to your therapist at your next session. That should keep you busy for about a year.

  • nicho

    Pope Endorses ‘Separate But Equal;’ Says He Can Accept Separate Drinking Fountains for Blacks and White

  • FLL

    From your comment: “As far as I know the Catholic Church has never ordered any gay killings?!”

    Then you know very little about the last 1600 years of Western history. You have a little homework to do.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    I fixed the typo after I read your comment :) You know you can edit posts? And if you don’t have access, I should be able to change that,.

  • FLL

    After all the heresy trials, witchcraft trials, auto-da-fé events and mass murder of every form, it does seem like there should be reparations from the Christian churches of some kind. Critics will say that reparations that are specific to gay and bisexual people are not feasible because the entire population would claim to be bisexual (which might not be far off the mark) in order to cash in on reparations from the Christian churches. But the Church’s victims have been found throughout most of population and the secular governments that represent them. I have an idea for reparations that would be both fair and feasible: start making the Church pay property taxes. Every other business, organization or individual has to pay property taxes. Why not the Church? In other words, reparations for all of society.

  • caphillprof

    They preached hatred and the boys fag bashed on Saturday night. It is called aiding and abetting and that is a crime.

  • caphillprof

    Too little, too late. We have won MARRIAGE and there is no need to retreat. A millennium of reparations are due!

  • FLL

    Which is why I’m so glad that the Catholic Church or the Protestant churches do not control modern secular governments. Here’s celebrating the end of the Middle Ages (again).

  • Indigo

    I’d just like to point out that if the incremental baby-steps approach to basic issues of human rights is the measure, Lincoln would never have gone so far as to abolish slavery. There’d be slave owners among us to this day.

  • Indigo

    That’s about where I stand but I love Renaissance art. They’ve got a monopoly on that one.

  • Indigo

    The “truth hurts” is only true when it’s a lie.

  • Indigo

    He’s not softening, he’s spinning. And he’s good at it.

  • Monophylos Fortikos

    Most men who are child molesters identify as straight, you know.

  • Silver_Witch

    Agreed and I will never ever understand why anyone not Catholic gives a rat’s ass what this man or for that matter any catholic says about their orientation. It is like people caring what the pastors from rabid christian groups (well any christian group) have to say about their life. Who cares.

  • Silver_Witch

    If a male is molesting girls, he can not be gay. You know that right. And if a man is molesting small boys it has nothing whatsoever to do with being gay either – it is called Pedophilia. Please read something beside the propaganda you hear from conservatives.

  • Thom Allen

    The pope is a Jesuit. Jesuits are often wonderfully manipulative to reach their – uh – God’s goals. They’re very politically astute. He may just be making nice and nothing substantive will come from it. Even if he is sincere, many of his bishops in the US, Africa, Asia are ignoring his thoughts on getting off of the anti-gay, anti-birth control propaganda highway. Dolan, the ArchHater, gives the pope lip service and then continues to hate, rabidly. Paprocki does anti-gay exorcisms. Virtually all other US cardinals and bishops follow their leads. Even the less powerful are severely bigoted:
    Br. Dolan, head of the Immaculate Heart of Mary School, withdrew his school form the St. Patrick’s Day parade when he found out that a few LGBT veterans would be allowed to march in it.

    “Brother Thomas Dalton wrote in a press release that
    the Immaculate Heart of Mary School in Harvard “… does not condone and
    will not appear to condone the homosexual lifestyle.” They have decided
    not to march:

    “We must stand firm with the Church which states in the
    Catechism of the Catholic Church, promulgated by Pope John Paul II, that
    ‘homosexual acts are acts of grave depravity’ and ‘are intrinsically
    disordered …Under no circumstances can they be approved.”
    Here, of course, is the real reason for keeping homosexuals out of
    the parade: It is not an issue of thematic unity, but one of religious
    objection to even sharing a street with gay people. It inspired this
    epic zinger from Globe columnist Kevin Cullen:
    “I hate to break it to Brother Thomas, but I’ve seen intrinsically
    disordered acts of grave depravity on and off Broadway during and after
    some parades, and none of them involved homosexuals.’ ”
    Note: Dolan cited John Paul II, but no mention of Francis’ more recent, softer guidance.

    Bishops and Archbishops in Africa, if not publicly cheering for the “Kill the Gays” bill have not been actively trying to stop it. Except for Ghana’s Cardinal Peter Turkson. And (non-Catholic) Bishop Desmond Tutu.

    Even if Francis is softening, there’s little evidence that the rest of the church is willing to even consider following his lead.

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    The church funneled millions of dollars into the Prop 8 campaign. So yeah, it most certainly matters. Not what he says, but what the church actually does.

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    I have no shits to give about what this old fart thinks about anything. What I do care about is that his organization spent millions in recent years to interfere with the rights of people like me who don’t give a damn what he thinks. All I care about is him calling off the Catholic interference in American civil liberties. Beyond that I’m happy to go back to ignoring him. Most Catholics obviously do given that they divorce and have abortions at the same rate as everyone else. The only people who seem to care what the pope thinks are media personalities. It’s easier than going out and covering real news, after all.

  • Bill_Perdue

    The catholic cult and all the Abrahamic cults are notorious for their bigotry.

    Civil unions are not a step forward, they’re a step sideways and they confer second class citizenship status as opposed to the first class statue of marriage equality.

  • Bill_Perdue

    Have you never read about the catholic cults mass murders. Then read this. http://rictornorton.co.uk/homopho5.htm

  • Mike_in_the_Tundra

    This comment you left at the Tea Party News Network is probably a little more like your normal thinking: “Oh well, when we get taken over by a dominant group, the gays, and the PC mob will be too afraid to speak anymore.”

    You also seemed to be celebrating the fact that there are just four Latino families in your neighborhood. I’ll start packing, so we can make it five.

  • Thom Allen

    The truth doesn’t hurt at all, you haven’t said anything that’s true. There YOU have it, poor, confused troll.

  • Mike_in_the_Tundra

    Gay male priests? They’re pedophiles. Pedophiles are neither gay or straight. You need to do a lot more research. Pedophiles do not care if the child is male or female. Pedophilia is a crime of convenience. They will assault whichever sex child is available to them. Unfortunately, most priests find mostly boys are easier to get to.

    I’m gay. I prefer men. You know: low voice, hairy chest, five o’clock shadow, I even like bald heads. Children cannot be that way.

  • Rambie

    It’s still forward movement. Granted a small step but even this is going to get backlash from the bigots in the Catholic church.

  • Mike_in_the_Tundra

    “As far as I know the Catholic Church has never ordered any gay killings?!”

    Did you ever hear of the Inquisition?

  • Donotask

    Why is everyone so excited? Tolerating is what they have always done. As far as I know the Catholic Church has never ordered any gay killings?! They cannot and will never “condone” homosexuality. Big difference. They have too many problems already with their own reputation of gay priests molesting alter boys and girls. All the sexual abuse we bag on them about in fact, was done by gay male priests. They aren’t really in a position to say anything one way or the other. Just read a commentator on the Huffington Post say “clean up your own house first” to the Catholic Church, and I was struck stupid that he didn’t realize their “mess” revolves around gay male priests! People are so stupid!

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Anyway, the typo aside, while this softening of Pope Francis’ position is welcome, it’s like asking someone, “I know we’ve traditionally banned blacks from our whites-only theaters and restaurants. Would you be all right if instead we made sure to segregate them from everybody else? You know, with separate entrances and seating areas?”

    U.S. federal law, as it stands now, does not recognize civil unions as marriages, period. States that have set up civil unions or their even more impoverished cousins, domestic partnerships, have proven amply that these legislative contortions are not as good as regular marriages, legally or socially.

    It’s not just a matter of terminology. Civil unions and domestic partnerships are specifically intended to be inferior to the legal and social institution of marriage. The stated rationale is always that marriage is something special, to be reserved only for heterosexuals. This “separate but inherently unequal” finding was precisely why New Jersey’s civil union arrangement was found to be unconstitutional and why California’s DP law (compounded by Prop 8) was also found to be lacking.

    I’ll give Francis this much: At least he seems to acknowledge that gay and lesbian-headed families do exist.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    As before, there’s that typo, which should read: “…that should pique our interest…” Grr!

  • Bill_Perdue

    That was the Democrat’s party line for years expressed by Obama and the Clintons.

    Civil unions are the equivalent of second class citizenship. People who are second class citizens are in danger of becoming even more oppressed. In the period after Reconstruction was betrayed and the tow party system instituted the racists made African Americans second class citizens with Jim Crow and other laws and then they jailed hundreds of thousands on trumped up charges and made them prison slaves of southern states. They do the same today with drug laws, but now it’s not limited to the South.

    Marriage equality and full equality on the job, in housing and in public accommodations are the only things that count.

  • 2karmanot

    “threatened withholding of Communion, Excommunication, and/or eternal damnation.” Bottom line and a very simple one at that: begone, you have no power here. Who cares about Catholic mumbo jumbo? The Catholic church is so corrupt it’s toxic to life.

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