Like every pope since the high medieval period, Francis has three different functionary powers: he is supreme teacher, pastor and legislator of the Catholic Church. The last category doesn’t usually attract much attention except from bishops, some clerics and all canon lawyers, whose job it is to keep up with the legislative agenda of every pope.
This situation suddenly changed, however, on the papal plane flying between Iquique and Santiago in Chile last month. Flight attendants Paula Podest Ruiz and Carlos Ciuffardi Elorriga asked Francis to “bless” their civil union. Years before, they had planned a Catholic wedding but, on the day they had planned, an earthquake struck and their church collapsed.