Vatican claims Pope’s remarks on LGBT+ rights ‘taken out of context’ and underlines church’s opposition to same-sex unions

Pope Francis has often sough to position himself as a more tolerant pontificate. (Michael Campanella/Getty Images)

Pope Francis’ endorsement of same-sex civil unions was taken out of context, Vatican officials have claimed as they sought to clarify that the church does not support LGBT+ rights.

The Pope’s comments featured in the documentary Francesco did not signal a change in church doctrine, neither did they support a wider endorsement of marriage equality, according to guidance issued to apologetic ambassadors by the Vatican secretariat of state.

Vatican nuncio to Mexico, Franco Coppola, posted on Facebook Friday (October 31) unsigned guidance which claims that the pontiff’s remarks were “edited” and lacked “proper contextualisation”.

In the guidance, the Vatican says that the Pope was referring to his position in 2010 when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires.

They said that the quote itself was not recent and was taken from a May 2019 interview that was never broadcast. The church claimed two of Francis’ answers were spliced together in Francesco.

“More than a year ago, during an interview, Pope Francis answered two different questions at two different times that, in the aforementioned documentary, were edited and published as a single answer without proper contextualisation, which has led to confusion,” the guidance said.

Pope Francis praised for endorsing same-sex civil unions. Not quite, the Vatican clarifies. 

Francesco made global headlines when it released an interview with the Pope in which he endorsed same-sex civil unions. The remarks were hailed by LGBT+ advocates but startled many religious leaders, prompting furious attempts to undermine them.

“Homosexual people have the right to be in a family,” Pope Francis said in the interview. “They are children of God and have a right to a family.

“Nobody should be thrown out or be made miserable over it.”

According to the Vatican guidance,  Francis was referring to parents with queer children and the need not to kick them out or discriminate against them.

The second part of his remarks – “What we have to create is a civil union law, that way they are legally covered, I stood up for that” – was again skewed, the guidance claimed.

It was him reiterating his position from nine years ago, as archbishop of Buenos Aires, the Vatican claimed.

“It is clear that Pope Francis was referring to certain state provisions and certainly not the doctrine of the church, which he has reaffirmed numerous times over the years,” the guidance said.

It had already emerged that the Pope’s comments were cherry-picked from a 2019 interview with Mexican television station Televisa.

The National Catholic Reporter last week published quotes taken from a full transcript of the conversation, reporting that the Francesco quotes were taken from three separate moments of the interview.

It too said that the Pope was discussing his position as archbishop, and went on to voice his view that marriage between a man and a woman is fundamentally different to a union between two people of the same gender.

Francis continued: “I am a conservative,” when asked about his view on church teachings.

“I’ve always defended doctrine. And it is curious about the law on homosexual marriage – it is a contradiction to speak of homosexual marriage.”