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Archbishop says Pope Francis told him civil unions would not be at all like marriages

Archbishop says Pope Francis told him civil unions would not be at all like marriages

  • They could include ‘brother and sister’ relationships, rather than just couples.
Pope Francis with Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone.

Many LGBT+ campaigners rushed to welcome Pope Francis’ endorsement of same-sex civil unions yesterday (21 October).

But now the Archbishop of San Francisco – who has discussed the issue with the pope – suggests Francis’ vision of civil unions may be very different to that of LGBT+ advocates.

Many LGBT+ campaigners imagine the unions – or civil partnerships – will be roughly equivalent to marriage. Indeed, many countries have put in place civil unions as an alternative to same-sex marriage.

But Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone claims what is in the pope’s mind ‘can in no way be equated to marriage’.

Francis made the comments about civil unions in a new documentary, Francesco, which premiered yesterday (21 October).

He said: ‘Homosexuals have a right to be a part of the family. They’re children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out, or be made miserable because of it.

‘What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered. I stood up for that.’

But in his statement, Cordileone makes it clear this won’t put same-sex couples anywhere close to achieving equality. Moreover, he says the pope made this clear when they met at the start of this year.

Civil unions not restricted to couples

Here is Cordileone’s statement in full:

‘In our bishops region’s audience with Pope Francis last January during our ad limina visit (the visit diocesan bishops make every five years to the Vatican), the topic of civil unions came up in conversation. 

‘The Holy Father clearly differentiated between a civil arrangement which accords mutual benefits to two people, and marriage. The former, he said, can in no way be equated to marriage, which remains unique.

‘I would add that a civil union of this type (one which is not equated to marriage) should be as inclusive as possible, and not be restricted to two people of the same sex in a presumed sexual relationship.

‘There is no reason, for example, why a brother and a sister, both of whom are unmarried and support each other, should not have access to these kinds of benefits.

‘Marriage is unique because it is the only institution that connects children to their mothers and fathers, and therefore is presumed to be a sexual relationship.

‘Indeed, the sexual relationship that marriage is presumed to involve is the only kind by which children are naturally made.

‘The nature of marriage, the place of sex within a virtuous life, these great teachings of the Church come to us from God, are illuminated by reason, and do not change.’

Work of the devil

Pope Francis previously argued for same-sex civil unions when he was an archbishop in Argentina. But he did so only in an attempt to stop the country passing a same-sex marriage bill which he fiercely rejected.

As such, he has a kindred spirit in Cordileone. The archbishop has previously called same-sex marrage ‘the ultimate attack of the evil one’.

In 2008 he helped raise more than $1 million to put Proposition 8 – California’s ban on marriage equality – on the state ballot.

Moreover the language Cordileone has used against same-sex marriage is also very similar to previous comments by Pope Francis.

He described marriage equality as ‘a machination of the Father of Lies [the Devil] that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.’