Pope Francis Endorses Same-Sex Civil Unions, but Something Intrinsically Evil Cannot Be the Object of Legal Rights

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Pope Francis Endorses Same-Sex Civil Unions, but Something Intrinsically Evil Cannot Be the Object of Legal Rights
Pope Francis Endorses Same-Sex Civil Unions, but Something Intrinsically Evil Cannot Be the Object of Legal Rights

Released on October 21, Francesco, a documentary by Evgeny Afineevsky, shocked millions of Catholics because Pope Francis visually endorsed the legalization of same-sex unions. Two cardinals, several bishops, priests, and lay Catholics stressed the obvious: The papal endorsement is incompatible with Catholic doctrine. Based on Scripture, Tradition, and her perennial teaching, the Church has always condemned homosexual acts as intrinsically evil and a grave offense to God.1

No one can be so naive as to suppose that two persons of the same sex, both afflicted with a disorderly same-sex attraction, can live together chastely in a mock marriage.

An Unprecedented Papal Statement

Here are the pope’s words, as they appear in the video:2 “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.3

With his usual ambiguity, Pope Francis does not distinguish between those who suffer from an unwanted disordered homosexual inclination and resist it with the help of grace and those who not only go on to sin but, as is common today, take pride in their offense against God.

“Homosexuals … Are Children of God”

As for the statement that “homosexuals … are children of God,” a distinction must be made.

God is not the Father of all men in the same sense. He cannot be Father equally of the just and the sinner, the believer and the unbeliever, the followers of the true Faith and those in heresy or the darkness of paganism.

According to The Catechism of the Council of Trent,4 one must distinguish between God’s paternity as “creator and a ruler” and His paternity “because He adopts Christians through grace.”

Divine paternity as creator applies to all men without distinction. Divine paternity by adoption through grace does not. It applies only to those who accept Faith in Jesus Christ and remain in His friendship.

Therefore, adoptive divine filiation comes by Faith and sanctifying grace. By destroying sanctifying grace in the soul, mortal sin causes the loss of adoptive divine filiation.

In this sense, practicing homosexuals as such cannot be called “children of God.”

Something Intrinsically Evil Cannot Be the Object of Legal Rights

It is clear that the law must protect everyone from injustice and ill-treatment. That is because of natural law and not because of any qualifier.

However, that cannot be used as an excuse to create special legislation to protect homosexual practice. Deviant moral behavior like homosexual practice cannot be protected and promoted by a law or a nation’s legal system. As Pius XII teaches, “that which does not correspond to truth or to the norm of morality, objectively has no right to exist, to be spread or to be activated.”5

Trying to Justify the Unjustifiable

Given the reaction triggered by the Francesco declaration, some attempts were made to justify the unjustifiable. In defense of the Argentine pope, it was asserted that his words were not addressed to homosexual filmmaker Evgeny Afineevsky but are part of a 2019 interview with Mexican journalist Valentina Alazrakiand and were censored from public distribution back then.6

It was also claimed that although the pope uttered the words presented in Afineevsky’s video, they were spliced together into a single sentence when, originally, they were part of different sentences. Finally, it was said that the pope spoke of “a law of civil coexistence” and not of “civil union.” Some mentioned that he did not defend same-sex “marriage” or the adoption of children by homosexual partners, a claim that was never made.7

However, no one denied that Pope Francis defended the legalization of homosexual unions, nor could they, as the Francesco movie leaves no doubt in this regard.8

Pope Francis Defended Same-Sex Unions When Cardinal-Archbishop

The attenuating explanations presented to soften the impact of the clear break with Catholic doctrine fell apart in the face of statements from two Argentine prelates. Both the archbishop of La Plata, Most Rev. Victor Manuel Fernández, and his predecessor, Most Rev. Héctor Aguer, testified that when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio defended homosexual “civil unions.”

Archbishop Fernández, who stated,“more than a friend, I am a son of Bergoglio”9 clarified that “to use the Spanish-language term ‘convivencia civil’ … is substantially equivalent to ‘civil union.’” The archbishop posted on Facebook that before he became pope, then-Cardinal Bergoglio “always recognized that, without calling it ‘marriage,’ in fact there are very close unions between people of the same sex, which do not in themselves imply sexual relations, but a very intense and stable alliance.”10

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In a statement published on October 28, Archbishop Emeritus Héctor Aguer affirmed:

Actually, as archbishop of Buenos Aires, the then-Cardinal Bergoglio, in a Plenary Assembly of the Argentine Episcopal Conference, proposed that the State approve the lawfulness of civil unions of homosexual people as a possible alternative to what was—and is—called “equal marriage.” At that time, it was argued against him that it was not a mere political or sociological question, but that it involved a moral judgment; consequently, one cannot promote the approval of civil laws contrary to the natural order. It was also recalled that this doctrine has been repeatedly stated in the documents of the Second Vatican Council. The plenary of the Argentine bishops rejected that proposal in a negative vote.11

A Coherent Whole and Always in the Same Line

Pope Francis’s latest error cannot be seen as an isolated fact. It must be inserted in an uninterrupted series of statements, acts, gestures, and attitudes that form a coherent whole, always in the same line.

Indeed, his position on Catholic morality, especially adultery and homosexuality, has always been at least ambiguous, starting with the resounding statement: “Who am I to judge?” The phrase was uttered in an interview early on in his pontificate in reply to a question about Msgr. Battista Ricca’s homosexual scandals in Uruguay. Pope Francis defended the monsignor against the accusations (which Uruguayan bishops had recognized),12 and, at the end, declared: “If a person is homosexual and seeks God, and has good will, who am I to judge?”13 The final phrase, “Who am I to judge,” became a pro-homosexual slogan.

Taking a Principled not a Personal Stand

As practicing Catholics, we are filled with compassion and pray for those who struggle against violent temptation to sin, be it toward homosexual sin or otherwise.

We are conscious of the enormous difference between these individuals who struggle with their weaknesses and strive to overcome them and others who transform their sin into a reason for pride, and try to impose their lifestyle on society as a whole, in flagrant opposition to traditional Christian morality and natural law. However, we pray for them too.

According to the expression attributed to Saint Augustine, we “hate the sin but love the sinner.” And to love the sinner, as the same Doctor of the Church explains, is to wish for him the best we can possibly desire for ourselves, namely, “that he may love God with a perfect affection.” (St. Augustine, Of the Morals of the Catholic Church, No. 49, www.newadvent.org/fathers/1401.htm)

It is not possible to mention here all the times when, by words or attitudes, the pope showed public sympathy for homosexuals and transgenders. By way of example, though, in January 2015, he let himself be photographed being flanked by two women, who live as a couple, one of whom believes she is a transgender man.14

That same year, on October 3, during his visit to the United States, Pope Francis received a male homosexual “couple” at the Nunciature in Washington and allowed himself to be filmed embracing them affectionately. The video was seen around the world.15

Certainty of Victory

These papal errors constitute a monumental trial for the faith of millions of Catholics. Some even despair and leave the Church to become Protestant, Orthodox, or nothing. This is very wrong.

The Savior promised us that the Church is immortal. Nevertheless, He allows the Church, in its human aspect, to go through crises. He does this to test the faith of the baptized. As Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira liked to recall, in His Agony in the Garden, Our Lord foresaw all these crises and suffered for them. He shed His Most Precious Blood so that His beloved Bride, the Church, would always be holy and sanctifying in every storm.

The present crisis is the worst that Holy Mother Church has ever had to weather. Knowing this would happen, Our Lord sent His Blessed Mother to Fatima so that her message would assist mankind. She talked of chastisement—and the present crisis is a most terrible one—but she also intoned a great hymn of victory: “Finally, my Immaculate Heart will triumph!”

Mary’s certainty of victory encourages us in this apocalyptic crisis. It strengthens us to fight on as true sons of the Church, brimming with love for that papacy without which the Church Militant here on Earth would cease to exist—an ever filial, unconditional, and faithful love despite the many times in which bad popes substituted the voice of a hireling for that of the Good Shepherd.

Photo Credit:  © Antoine – stock.adobe.com


  1. See Raymond Cardinal Burke, “Statement on the Declarations of Pope Francis Regarding Civil Unions,” Oct. 22, 2020, https://www.cardinalburke.com/presentations/statement-pope-francis-civil-unions; (Ludwig Cardinal Muller), Maike Hickson, “Cardinal says Catholics ‘can and should’ disagree with Pope’s ‘opinion’ on gay civil unions. ‘When in doubt, be in favor of God.’” LifeSiteNews, Oct. 22, 2020, https://www.lifesitenews.com/blogs/cdl.mueller-popes-words-on-gay-civil-unions-purely-private-expression-of-opinion-which-every-catholic-can-and-should-freely-contradict; John-Henry Westen, “Archbishop Viganò, Bishops Tobin and Strickland Respond to Pope’s Approval of Homosexual Civil Unions,” LifeSiteNews, Oct. 21, 2020, https://www.lifesitenews.com/blogs/archbishop-vigano-and-bishops-tobin-strickland-respond-to-popes-approval-of-homosexual-civil-unions; Edward Pentin, “Bishop Schneider to Pope Francis: For the Sake of Your Soul, Retract Approval of Same-Sex Civil Unions,” Oct. 23, 2020, https://edwardpentin.co.uk/bishop-schneider-to-pope-francis-for-sake-of-your-soul-retract-approval-of-same-sex-civil-unions/.
  2. For a well-documented study of Catholic doctrine on the subject, see TFP Committee on American Issues, Defending a Higher Law: Why We Must Resist Same-Sex “Marriage” and the Homosexual Movement (Spring Grove, Penn.: The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property, 2004). To download this book in pdf format, please go to https://tfp.org/images/books/Defending_A_Higher_Law.pdf.
  3. CNA Staff, “Pope Francis Calls for Civil Union Law for Same-Sex Couples, in Shift From Vatican Stance,” Catholic News Agency, Oct. 21, 2020, https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/pope-francis-calls-for-civil-union-law-for-same-sex-couples-in-shift-from-vatican-stance-12462. (All emphasis ours.)
  4. See The Catechism of the Council of Trent (Rockford, Ill.: Tan Books, 1982), 20–1. See also S. Gonzalez, S.J., De gratia, in Sacrae Theologiae Summa (Madrid: B.A.C., 1950), III, c. 2, a. 3, nos. 208–19.
  5. Pius XII, speech Ci Riesce (To the National Convention of Italian Catholic Jurists), Dec. 6, 1953, https://www.ewtn.com/catholicism/library/ci-riesce-8948.
  6. See Nicole Winfield, “Francis Becomes 1st Pope to Endorse Same-Sex Civil Unions,” AP, Oct. 21, 2020, https://apnews.com/article/pope-endorse-same-sex-civil-unions-eb3509b30ebac35e91aa7cbda2013de2.
  7. Cindy Wooden, “Transcript Shows Pope’s Distinction Between Gay Marriage, Civil Unions,” Cruxnow.com, Oct. 27, 2020, https://cruxnow.com/vatican/2020/10/transcript-shows-popes-distinction-between-gay-marriage-civil-unions/; Nicole Winfield, “Vatican Breaks Silence, Explains Pope’s Civil Union Comments,” AP, Nov. 2, 2020, https://apnews.com/article/pope-francis-vatican-civil-union-comment-8f53e237da41da9891564268f1a2e66a.
  8. See “Francis Endorses Civil Unions for Homosexuals in new Documentary ‘Francesco,’” Novus Ordo Watch, Oct. 21, 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJz6jZG3b8U.
  9. “Víctor Manuel Fernández: ‘Más que Amigo, Soy Hijo de Bergoglio. Sus Palabras me Han Marcado Para el Resto de mi Vida,’” Religion Digital, Sept. 2, 2020, https://www.religiondigital.org/america/Mons-Fernandez-cosas-Francisco-marcado-argentina-amigo-papa_0_2264773539.html.
  10. CNA Staff, “Argentine Archbishop and Pope Francis Advisor Says ‘Civil Union’ not Mistranslated in Documentary,” CNA, Oct. 22, 2020, https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/argentine-archbishop-and-pope-francis-advisor-says-civil-union-not-mistranslated-in-documentary-95995.
  11. Archbishop Héctor Aguer, “InfoCatolica, La Familia: Esposa, Esposo, Hijos. A Propósito de una Declaración Papal,” InfoCatolica, Oct. 28, 2020, https://www.infocatolica.com/?t=opinion&cod=38975.
  12. Sandro Magister, “The Prelate of the Gay Lobby,” www.Chiesa, Jul. 18, 2013, http://chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it/articolo/1350561bdc4.html?eng=y; Matthew Hoffman, “Uruguayan Newspaper Confirms Accusations of Homosexual Conduct by Vatican Bank Appointee,” LifeSiteNews, Jul. 23, 2013, https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/uruguayan-newspaper-confirms-accusations-of-homosexual-conduct-by-vatican-b.
  13. “Apostolic Journey to Rio De Janeiro on the Occasion of the XXVIII World Youth Day—Press Conference of Pope Francis During the Return Flight—Papal Flight—Sunday, 28 July 2013,” http://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/speeches/2013/july/documents/papa-francesco_20130728_gmg-conferenza-stampa.html; Rachel Donadio, “On Gay Priests, Pope Francis Asks, ‘Who Am I to Judge?’” The New York Times, Jul. 29, 2013, https://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/30/world/europe/pope-francis-gay-priests.html; Magister, “The Prelate of the Gay Lobby.”
  14. John-Henry Westen, “Pope Francis Calls Woman With Sex-Change Operation a ‘Man’ and Calls Partners ‘Married,’” LifeSiteNews, Oct. 3, 2016, https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/pope-francis-calls-woman-with-sex-change-operation-a-man-and-calls-partners.
  15. Ashley Gold, “Pope Francis Met Gay Couple at Vatican Embassy in US,” BBC News, Oct. 2, 2015, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-34428407.

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