Pope Francis appears to confirm in a book of interviews that he supports same-sex couples being legal as "civil unions," but not calling them married.
The pope's comment is in a 432-page book by Dominique Wolton, a French journalist, called "Politics and Society," a book of interviews with the pope, according to LifeSite News.
"Let us call things by their names. Matrimony is between a man and a woman. This is the precise term. Let us call the same-sex union a 'civil union,'" the pope said in the book.
"What can we think of marriage between people of the same sex? 'Matrimony' is a historical word. Always, in humanity, and not just in the church, it was a man and a woman … it's not possible to change it. It is part of nature," the pope added, according to excerpts in Aleteia.
The Catholic Church's teaching on homosexual marriage is that such unions cannot be approved because homosexual acts are "intrinsically disordered," according to LifeSite News.
That teaching was noted in a 2003 document authored by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who would be elected Pope Benedict XVI in 2005.
"The Church teaches that respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behavior or to legal recognition of homosexual unions," the document reads.
The pope offered the civil union compromise on gay marriage as "the lesser of two evils," according to Sergio Rubin, his authorized biographer, in a New York Times report in 2013.
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