Pope voices support for gays: a turning point?

In the new documentary Francesco, Pope Francis speaks out in favour of legally recognised partnerships for homosexual couples, saying that they "have a right to a family". The official view of the Catholic Church so far is that homosexual acts are "intrinsically disordered" and go against nature. Not all observers see Francis's words as a deviation from this position.

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Die Presse (AT) /

A sensation in many parts of the world

Francis' statements may not be all that exciting in the eyes of Western societies, writes Die Presse:

“But in Eastern Europe, and even more so on other continents - homosexuals still face the death penalty in 15 countries - the pope's statements are a sensation. ... As head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, [Benedict XVI.] expressly warned against such a move in 2003, in a letter against the legal recognition of homosexual marriages, on the grounds that it would legitimise 'deviant behavior'. ... There's a big distance between Benedict and Francis. ... Even if Pope Francis holds firm to the concept of marriage as a sacrament that only women and men can bestow on each other, the statement must seem like a provocation for conservatives.”

Gazeta Wyborcza (PL) /

Symbolic gestures are important

In Gazeta Wyborcza, journalist Ignacy Dudkiewicz is convinced that the pope's signal to LGBTQ people could have a concrete effect in countries like Poland:

“It's not as if the pope's statements alone don't count. They are an argument against the participation of Church hierarchies in the campaign against LGBTQ persons and a signal to Catholics and LGBTQ Catholics that they are welcome in the church, along with their families and children (that is what the film is trying to show). I know LGBTQ people who were genuinely moved by the pope's words yesterday. Encyclicals, catechism, and adhortations are important, but Francis also likes to teach and change the Church in other ways.”

republica.ro (RO) /

Message won't reach conservatives

Commenting on the blog republica.ro, history teacher Marcel Bartic is delighted about the pope's statement but fears it will meet with much incomprehension:

“This is a strong statement. A determined statement. It brings Catholicism out from under the umbrella of fear and historical prejudices about the LGBT community. But I have no illusions that the Catholic or Orthodox Taliban will understand the meaning behind the pope's gesture. In our country, at any rate, even if Jesus Christ were to descend on a ray of light surrounded by angels and archangels into the subway and say the same thing, there would be someone who would hysterically reply: 'Hey, how much money did you take to say that?'”

Jutarnji list (HR) /

Gay marriage for Catholics still a long way off

The pope's attitude cannot be interpreted as all that progressive, says Jutarnji list:

“He stops at legal protection. He is not speaking of religious recognition, much less of marriage. ... Francis said clearly and unambiguously that in terms of religious doctrine he was a 'faithful son of the Catholic Church'. In doing so, he emphasised what was clear from the beginning, at least to religiously educated Catholics: that the Pope would not change the doctrine of the Church. For the time being, a pope agreeing to same-sex marriage or women being ordained as priests remains unthinkable. ... Homosexual marriage with sacraments is a hallucination, a wild fantasy.”

La Croix (FR) /

Francis is concerned about protection and respect

The head of the Vatican is expanding the Church's outlook, La Croix believes:

“In many parts of the world, the people concerned remain in a state of legal uncertainty. And it is because the pope has realised the fragility of their situation that he has said he is in favour of civil unions. Wanting better legal protection for homosexual couples, however, does not mean approving of their life choices. On this subject, Francis has not broken with Church discourse, but is rather expanding on it by drawing the legal consequences of a doctrine that calls for acceptance and respect for every person, regardless of their sexual orientation.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

Francis is acknowledging the signs of the times

Commenting in La Repubblica, theologian and philosopher Vito Mancuso sees the Pope's words as groundbreaking:

“He points to an unstoppable process that is taking place on a global scale: homosexual love is being given the same dignity as heterosexual love. In this sense, his words represent a victory of reason. It can't have been easy for the Pope to pronounce them. ... But by doing so he is demonstrating his open mentality, his personal courage, his good judgment and his prophetic capacity. This is in fact a matter of reading the 'signs of the times', as the Gospel admonishes, and the unmistakable sign of our times is the need to overcome the doctrinal closures of the past in order to transform love from mere proclamation into a concrete way of living for everyone.”

Avvenire (IT) /

No equality with marriage

For the Catholic daily Avvenire, the pope's statements do not mean that marriage and civil union are equal:

“The Pope's words on homosexuality are astonishing only for those who forget his interventions of recent years. ... For example, the detailed statement in the post-synodal apostolic Amoris laetitia [The Joy of Love, 2016], in which he writes, among other things, that 'the dignity of every human being, regardless of sexual orientation, must be esteemed and treated with respect'. ... It should not be forgotten, however, that in the following paragraph he stresses that there is no basis for plans to establish equality between marriage and homosexual partnerships. ... The acceptance of homosexuals is never seen by him to be in opposition to the truth of the heterosexual family.”

wPolityce.pl (PL) /

Wait and see

wPolityce.pl doesn't put too much stock in the documentary:

“Before we begin to open another front in the fight against the head of the Church, we should wait until we see the Pope's full declaration. ... The Pope is not about to change his position in this or that statement to the media. Doctrine is expressed in documents that bind the Church community. Clearly there are many, including the Freemasons, who have a keen interest in a change of course. They do their best to distort Francis's individual statements and convey the impression of institutional change. But before we fall for such tactics, please let us stick to the facts.”