ANSA, an Italian news agency, on Jan. 22 reported that Francis spoke to the Roman Rota, a Vatican court that primarily handles marriage annulments. The pontiff reportedly said in his speech that a report on the family that Catholic bishops released last October “told the world that there can be no confusion between the family as willed by God, and every other type of union.”
“The church continues to propose marriage in its essentials — offspring, good of the couple, unity, indissolubility, sacramentality — not as ideal only for a few — notwithstanding modern models centered on the ephemeral and the transient — but as a reality that can be experienced by all the baptized faithful,” said Francis, according to ANSA.
Francis made his comments ahead of Thursday’s expected vote in the Italian Senate on a bill that would allow gays and lesbians to enter into civil unions and extend second-parent adoption rights to same-sex couples.
Arcigay, an Italian LGBT advocacy group, on Saturday organized dozens of protests across the country in support of the bill.
Francis DeBernardo, executive director of the Maryland-based New Ways Ministry, wrote on his blog that Francis’ “clear statement against marriage equality in the midst of a political debate about civil unions in Italy…is very disappointing.” Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of DignityUSA, a group for LGBT Catholics, expressed a similar sentiment.
“This statement from the pope is sure to dishearten many who believed he was open to new thinking about committed, loving relationships between lesbian and gay people,” she said in a statement.
Francis backed marriage referenda in Slovenia, Slovakia
The church has taken a more moderate tone towards homosexuality and other issues since Francis became pope in 2013.
Apple CEO Tim Cook, who came out in 2014, on Jan. 22 met with Francis. The pontiff last September met with Yayo Grassi, a gay man he taught in his native in Argentina in the 1960s, during his visit to D.C.
Duddy-Burke and other LGBT Catholics with whom the Washington Blade has spoken insist the church’s positions on homosexuality, marriage rights for same-sex couples and other issues has not changed under Francis’ pontificate.
The Vatican last month backed a referendum on whether to repeal Slovenia’s same-sex marriage law that passed by a 63-37 percent margin.
Francis in 2015 urged voters in Slovakia to vote for proposed amendments to their country’s constitution that would have defined marriage as between a man and woman and banned gays and lesbians from adopting children.
The referendum failed because of insufficient voter turnout.