Pope: Church Should Tolerate Some Civil Unions

Image: Pope: Church Should Tolerate Some Civil Unions

Wednesday, 05 Mar 2014 01:55 PM

By Bill Hoffmann

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The Catholic Church could tolerate some types of civil unions as a way of protecting healthcare and property rights, Pope Francis said.

"Matrimony is between a man and a woman," the pontiff told the Italian daily newspaper Corriere della Sera in an interview published Wednesday and translated by the Catholic News Service.

But moves to "regulate diverse situations of cohabitation [are] driven by the need to regulate economic aspects among persons, as for instance to assure medical care … It is necessary to look at the diverse cases and evaluate them in their variety."

Francis: Who Is Pope Francis? Book Reveals the Man

It is the first time a Pope has ever indicated even a minute acceptance of civil unions.

In the interview, the Pope also said that while the church would not alter its stance against artificial birth control, church teachings on the subject should be applied with "much mercy."

Francis praised Pope Paul VI's 1968 encyclical "Humanae Vitae," which prohibits the use of contraception.

Pope Paul's "genius was prophetic. He had the courage to side against the majority, defend moral discipline, put a brake on the culture, oppose neo-Malthusianism, present and future," the Pope said.

But he added that Paul had told confessors to interpret his encyclical with "much mercy, attention to concrete situations," according to the Catholic News Service.

"The question is not whether to change the doctrine, but to go deeper and make sure that pastoral care takes account of situations and of what each person is able to do," he said.

Francis said the subjects of birth control and divorce will be discussed at the Vatican in October during a Synod of Bishops.

The synod will air the issues "in the light of profound reflection," he said.

Francis also defended the church's response to the clerical sex abuse scandals.

He said the crimes had left "very profound wounds," but noted that beginning with Pope Benedict, the church has done "perhaps more than anyone" to tackle the problem.

"Statistics on the phenomenon of violence against children are shocking, but they also clearly show the great majority of abuses occur in family and neighborhood settings," Francis said.

"The Catholic Church is perhaps the only public institution to have acted with transparency and responsibility. No one else has done more. And yet the church is the only one attacked."

Francis also brushed off those who believe he is a superhuman being.

"To portray the Pope as a kind of superman, a type of star, strikes me as offensive. The Pope is a man who laughs, weeps, sleeps soundly, and has friends like everybody else. A normal person," he said.

Francis: Who Is Pope Francis? Book Reveals the Man

He said he consults with Pope Benedict and has advised him to actively participate in church life.

"The Pope emeritus is not a statue in a museum," Francis said.


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