Now Reading
Pope’s gay friend is ‘not surprised at all’ that he backs civil unions

Pope’s gay friend is ‘not surprised at all’ that he backs civil unions

  • Pope Francis told him: ‘We have been friends for so long. Why would I judge you?’
Pope Francis.

A gay friend of Pope Francis says his comments endorsing civil unions for same-sex couples do not surprise him.

Yayo Grassi told the Washington Blade: ‘I was not surprised at all. To me it was like a natural consequence of the things that he’s done.’

The pope made headlines around the world when he backed civil unions earlier this month. In a documentary called ‘Francesco’, Francis said:

‘Homosexual people have a right to be in a family. They are children of God and have a right to a family. What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered.’

LGBT+ campaigners instantly welcomed the comments.

However, opponents said the civil unions the pope referred to would be nothing like marriage.

The Archbishop of San Francisco, Salvatore Cordileone, said the pope had told him and other senior priests that his vision for civil unions ‘can in no way be equated to marriage’. Moreover, the archbishop argued it could include legal recognition for brothers and sisters living together.

‘Who am I to judge you?’

Grassi has discussed same-sex marriage and civil unions with Francis before.

The pair met when Grassi was 17 years old and Francis was still Jorge Bergoglio. He taught Grassi at his high school in the Argentine city of Santa Fe in the mid 1960s.

When Francis became an archbishop in Argentina, he opposed same-sex marriage but offered civil unions as a compromise. The Catholic church battled against marriage equality but Argenitina eventually made it law anyway.

Grassi says: ‘He said it is not a religious law that is being debated, it is a civil law so therefore the church has nothing to do with it.

‘That was when he told me that “you’re coming here and I know you. We have been friends for so long. Who am I to judge you? Why would I judge you?”’

Likewise, Francis made the comments about not judging gay people at the start of his papacy.

However, even in the Francesco documentary, he makes it clear that doesn’t approve of ‘homosexual acts’.

Now Grassi speculates that Francis is struggling to modernize the church’s attitudes towards LGBT+ people.

But he says: ‘It is very difficult to change an institution that is over 2,000 years old.’

Moreover, he says it would be impossible for the pope to endorse marriage equality”

‘Obviously he can’t say that. It is impossible for the pope … it’s [not] like the pope will go out and say I support abortion or I support the death penalty. Those are things that are so extreme [within] the church that it is going to be difficult for him to say it.

‘I don’t think he would ever say it.’