29 October 2020, The Tablet

Walking with freedom: Francis' support for same-sex civil unions

Walking with freedom: Francis' support for same-sex civil unions

The Pope with gay and lesbian Catholics from the UK at the Vatican on Ash Wednesday 2019


As our Rome correspondent writes, Pope Francis’ declaration of support for same-sex civil unions will go down as one of the landmark moments of his papacy

As many have pointed out, in one sense, what happened last week changes very little; in another, it changes everything. Francis has again reminded us that he is a “disruptor Pope”, prepared to break more than a few plates to communicate the gospel message of compassion and respect for every human ­person.

His words created a global media firestorm. He won plaudits from voices ranging from António Guterres, the United Nations’ Secretary General, to Ellen DeGeneres, the American talk-show host who married actress Portia de Rossi in 2008. DeGeneres tweeted, “Thank you, Pope Francis, for seeing love for what it is.” But he is facing harsh criticism from some voices inside the Church. Perhaps inevitably, Cardinal Raymond Burke is leading the way, accusing the Pope of sowing ­“confusion”.

In fact, the Pope’s words are unambiguous. He is making a decisive break with attitudes of the past, including the 2003 document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that not only condemned the legal recognition of same-sex unions but declared that “clear and emphatic opposition is a duty”. That document was signed by the prefect of the CDF, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. Two years later, he was elected Pope Benedict XVI.

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