Archbishop compares same-sex relationships to ‘brother and sister’ unions after Pope’s historic endorsement of LGBT+ rights

San Francisco Archbishop

Pope Francis’ endorsement of same-sex civil unions was unenthusiastically received by the Archbishop of San Francisco, who responded with a suggestion that brothers and sisters might be given the same rights.

The 83-year-old Pope made a major break from Catholic teachings in an an interview for the documentary Francesco, which premiered on Wednesday (October 21).

The pontiff 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.”

He added: “What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered. I stood up for that.”

The history-making moment was celebrated around the world, but not, it seems, by the Archbishop of San Francisco, the ‘Gay Capital’ of America.

In a statement to The Chronicle Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone reiterated his opposition to marriage equality, which he has previously described as “the ultimate attack of the evil one”.

“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,” he insisted.

“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.”

Cordileone then undermined the validity of same-sex relationships by comparing them to siblings entering into a civil union.

“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,” he suggested.

Unlike same-sex marriage, heterosexual 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,” he said.

“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.”

Pope Francis’ endorsement of same-sex civil unions will find reluctance from church.

Like many Catholic leaders, Archbishop Cordileone has long battled against marriage equality. In 2008 he helped raise more than $1 million to put Proposition 8 on the state ballot, rallying both Christians and Mormons to the cause.

A federal judge struck down the ban calling it unconstitutional, but Cordileone remained adamantly opposed. “No matter what the Supreme Court rules, this debate is not over,” he said.

Ernest Camisa, a board member of Dignity/San Francisco, told The Chronicle that although the Pope is “heading in the right direction” the rest of the church is likely to resist his changes.

“I know there are many bishops in the church that have a different mindset, and would be reluctant to support Pope Francis’s views on same-sex unions and would find excuses not to treat us in the LGBTQI community as equals,” he said. “The word ‘marriage’ would be one of those excuses.”