In New Autobiography: Pope Francis Again Defends Civil Unions for Homosexuals

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In New Autobiography: Pope Francis Again Defends Civil Unions for Homosexuals
In New Autobiography: Pope Francis Again Defends Civil Unions for Homosexuals
Photo: © Mazur/, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Pope Francis’ new autobiographical book,1 written with journalist Fabio Marchese Ragona, was recently released. It is titled Pope Francis’ Life: My Story Through History and has been translated into several languages. It was published simultaneously in Europe and America by HarperCollins.2

The Communist Who Taught Pope Francis to Think

The 232-page book tells the story of Pope Francis’s life from his childhood to the present. As is customary, he speaks well of his family, but we were surprised to see emphatic praise for a declared communist. Esther Ballestrino fled from Paraguay to Argentina for political-ideological reasons (she was a militant of the Revolutionary Febrerista Party). She was Pope Francis’s chemistry teacher in a laboratory where he worked while studying at Industrial School No.12.

He states:

“Esther was a remarkable woman, and I owe her a great deal. Yes, she was a communist through and through, and an atheist, but a respectful one … And she taught me so much about politics … She gave me some publications, including that of the Communist Party.”3

As a Jesuit priest, he says, “I was still fond of her. After all, she taught me to think.” He then recounts that because of her political activity, Esther was under police surveillance. She asked him to remove the Marxist books from her home and hide them. He hid them among the books at the Jesuit school. 4

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However, he insists, “I never embraced communist ideology.” He says he read communist literature to understand better “the world that Esther came from.”5

Criticism of the Military, Silence on Violent Communist Terrorists

Pope Francis harshly criticizes Argentina’s anticommunist military regime of the seventies. While there is no doubt there were unacceptable excesses on the part of the regime, Pope Francis’s criticism of the military is one-sided and biased. He fails to reference the violent communist urban guerrilla movements active in the country at the time. Among the various guerrilla groups were the Montoneros, of Catholic and Peronist origin,6 and the Ejército Revolucionario del Pueblo (ERP), of Trotskyist inspiration and a break-away group, the ERP-22 de Agosto.7

Thus, his narrative does not consider the numerous terrorist attacks like that of the murder of two conservative Catholic philosophers, Jordano Bruno Genta on October 27, 1974, and Carlos Sacheri on December 22 of that same year. Sacheri was executed in front of his wife and seven children as he left Mass and Genta as he left his house on his way to Mass. Both were killed by the ERP-22 de Agosto movement.8

“God Loves Everyone, Especially Sinners”

In an interview on Italian television on January 14, Pope Francis said he “like[s] to think hell is empty; I hope it is.”9 In this autobiography, he imagines a Church that “embraces and welcomes everyone,” including sinners who “have been judged by us in the past … for example, homosexuals and transsexuals who seek the Lord but are rejected or persecuted. … God loves everyone, especially sinners.10

He believes “it is essential today that we abandon the rigidity of the past, and distance ourselves from a Church that points the finger in condemnation.”11

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The Church has always welcomed sinners who want to change their lives and has never rejected those who seek her help to abandon sin. She gives constant spiritual guidance and offers the Sacraments, especially Penance, when sinners are able to receive them. But like Our Lord in relation to the adulterous woman, when forgiving repentant sinners, she never acquiesced to current or future sins. Saint Bede, commenting on Jesus’s forgiveness of the repentant sinner, explains: “Since He is merciful and gentle, He forgives the past, but since He is just and loves justice, He forbids her to sin any more.”12

It is worth analyzing here Pope Francis’s statement that “God loves everyone, especially sinners.” If God “loves especially sinners,” then he will love atheists, blasphemers, idolaters, murderers, the impure, thieves, liars and others who deliberately disobey what He established with the Ten Commandments. This is absurd.

“God is the supreme good,”13 and therefore, He cannot love sin, which is the opposite of good, nor can He love a sinner as such. As Saint Thomas explains, God loves sinners not as sinners but as His creatures. As long as they are sinners, “under this aspect, they are hated by Him.”14

Furthermore, how can we say that God loves “especially sinners” when Saint John says that “he that committed sin is of the devil.”15

Support for Same-sex Unions

Next, Pope Francis says considering that “all children of God must be welcomed with open arms”—including homosexual and transgender individuals—“does not mean the Church is in favor of same-sex marriage” because the sacrament of marriage was instituted by Our Lord “only for the union of a man and a woman.”16

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This statement, which seems to safeguard the Sacrament of Marriage, is misleading. It could be interpreted as suggesting that non-sacramental marriage (that of unbaptized people or pagans) could take place between people of the same sex.

The institution of marriage itself requires a man and a woman since marriage is a natural institution created by God in the earthly paradise for the purpose of perpetuating the human species, which is only possible through this union. That is why the book of Genesis (1:27) says that God created them “male and female.” And He commanded: “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and subdue it” (Gen. 1:28).

Our Lord elevated this natural marriage between Christians to the status of a Sacrament as a symbol of the union and love between Christ and his Church.17 However, He did not change the nature of marriage, which is why the natural marriage of pagans is valid and indissoluble.18 Thus, the same book of Genesis says: “Wherefore a man shall leave father and mother and shall cleave to his wife: and they shall be two in one flesh” (2: 24).19

Thus, according to the Scriptures, the Church Fathers, and the Magisterium, marriage, whether natural (among pagans) or sacramental (among the baptized), is a union between a man and a woman. It is the only legitimate way to exercise human sexuality.

Now, Pope Francis implicitly denies this truth when he defends “civil unions” for two people of the same sex while denying the possibility of sacramental marriage for such pairs. He says:

Civil unions are another matter, and on this subject, I have said on many occasions that it is right that these people who experience the gift of love should have the same legal protections as everyone else.”20

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He continues: “Jesus often met and spent time with people who lived on the margins of society, who live in the existential peripheries, and that is what the Church should be doing today with members of the LGBTQ+ community, who are often marginalized within the Church.”21

It is clear from these words that he is talking about practicing homosexuals and not about people who suffer from same-sex attraction but who remain chaste with the help of grace. He also unreservedly adopts the homosexual movement’s acronym “LGBTQ+,” as if it were something entirely acceptable.

“Civil Protection” for the Sin of Sodomy?

Now then, two people of the same sex with homosexual attraction, living stably together, will normally end up committing homosexual sin. Therefore, to defend civil unions for homosexuals is, at the very least, to defend a near occasion of grave sin. And, the moralists say, “[t]o remain in an occasion of sin is a mortal sin if there is a serious danger of committing a mortal sin; the sin is multiplied each time the occasion is desired or permitted with renewed willingness.”22

It is also a scandal to present this proposition when civil laws increasingly tend to favor homosexuality. This is aggravated by Fiducia Supplicans’s permission for priests to hold “blessings for same-sex couples,”23 which has earned the repudiation of cardinals, entire episcopates, priests and faithful.24

In yet another memoir released this April 3, Pope Francis returns to the subject of civil unions for homosexuals: “Since marriage is a sacrament, it cannot be administered to homosexual couples, but that, in a way, one would have to give a guarantee or civil protection to the situation of these people.” He then suggested “civil unions” as in France.25

Christ’s Passion in Our Days

To say that sinful cohabitation should be given “civil protection” by law is to oppose both divine and natural law. It falls into legal positivism, that is, law with no moral basis. However, Pope Pius XII, in a memorable speech to the National Convention of Italian Catholic Jurists on December 6, 1953, made it clear that evil and error cannot be the subject of rights. We highlight the following excerpt:

“Above all, it must be clearly stated that no human authority, no state, no community of states, whatever their religious character, can give a positive command or positive authorization to teach or to do that which would be contrary to religious truth or moral good. Such a command or authorization would have no obligatory power and remain without effect. No authority may give such a command because it is contrary to nature to oblige the spirit and the will of man to error and evil or to consider one or the other as indifferent. Not even God could give such a positive command or positive authorization, because it would be in contradiction to His absolute truth and sanctity.” 26

On the other hand, to say that homosexuals have the “gift of love” is to present an unhealthy attraction, contrary to human nature, as true, altruistic and disinterested love, as defined by Saint Thomas.27

Homosexual love is impossible because it seeks to transform the love of friendship between two people of the same sex into conjugal love. Now, conjugal love is a special kind of love of friendship that has as its purpose the ends proper to marriage: the procreation and education of offspring and mutual help.28

Teach “All Things Whatsoever I Have Commanded You”

Our Lord said: “He who obeys the commandments he has from me is the one who loves me.”29

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The mission of the Church is the one Our Lord gave the Apostles and their successors shortly before ascending into Heaven:

“Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” 30

Therefore, neither the pope nor bishops can change the teachings of Jesus Christ, clearly contained in Divine Revelation and Tradition and attested to by the perennial Magisterium of the Church.


  1. In 2014, a biography of the new pope was published in English with the title “Pope Francis His Life in His Own Words – Conversations with Jorge Bergoglio – written with (Rabbi) Serge Rubin and (journalist) Francesca Ambrogetti. It was published by New American Library.
  2. Pope Francis with Fabio Marchese Ragona, Life My Story Through History, Aubrey Botsford, trans. (Harperone Collins Publishers, New York, 2024).
  3. Ibid. 53. All emphases in the quotations are ours.
  4. Ibid. 87-88.
  5. Ibid. 53.
  6. Montoneros,, 4/1/24.
  7. Ejército Revolucionario del Pueblo (Argentina),, 4/8/2024.
  8. Aciprensa, Recuerdan en Argentina a Jordán Bruno Genta a 30 años de asesinato, ; Elena Scirica, Un embate virulento contra el clero tercermundista: Carlos Sacheri y su cruzada contra “La Iglesia Clandestine.”,.,; Carlos Alberto Sacheri,; accessed 4/1/24.
  9. Cindy Wooden, “Pope Francis says he hopes hell is ’empty,’” Catholic News Service, Jan. 15, 2024,, 4/5/24. Luiz Sergio Solimeo, “Pope Francis Wishes Hell Were Empty,” Mar. 7, 2024.
  10. Life My Story, p. 218.
  11. Ibid., 220.
  12. Quotation in The Great Commentary of Cornelius a Lapide, The Holy Gospel According to Saint John (Loreto Publications: Fitzwilliam, N.H.) 317.
  13. Summa Theologica, I, q. 6, a.2 c.
  14. Summa Theologica, I, q. 20, a. 2 ad 4.
  15. I John, 3:8.
  16. Life My Story, p. 218-219.
  17. Cf. Ephesians, 5:21-25, 32.
  18. Council of Trent, Session XXIV, Doctrine Concerning the Sacrament of Matrimony, Denzinger, 969 ff.; Sacra Theologia Summa, liv. II, cap.I, Matrimonio, Fr. Francisco Ap. Sola, S. I., 4/2/24
  19. Cf. Matt. 19:6; Mark 10:6-8.
  20. Life My Story, p. 219.
  21. Ibid.
  22. Dom Gregory Manise, O.S.B., Occasionist, in Francesco Cardinal Roberti, Monsignor [afterward Cardinal] Pietro Palazzini, (Henry J. Yannone, S.T.L, translator), Dictionary of Moral Theology (The Newman Press: Westminster, Md., 1962) 847-8.
  23. Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration Fiducia Supplicans On the Pastoral Meaning of Blessings, Presentation; Nos. 2, 39, 41,  1/5/24.
  24. Pope Francis Authorizes Blessing Homosexual Couples and Adulterers with a Declaration and a “Clarification” that Favor Sin by Luiz Sérgio Solimeo, February 1, 2024, 4/6/24.
  25. Martínez-Brocal, Javier. Papa Francisco. El sucesor: Mis recuerdos de Benedicto XVI Editorial Planeta), our translation, 64.
  26. Pius XII, Ci Riese, 4/8/24.
  27. See TFP Committee on American Issues, Defending A Higher Law (The American Society of Defense of Tradition Family and Property: Spring Grove, Penn., 2004) 77.
  28. Saint Thomes, in Ethicorum lib. 8, 1.12 n. 22, in Defending A Higher Law, 80.
  29. John 14:21.
  30. Matt. 28:19-20.

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