What to think about the Pope and his comments of Civil Unions for Homosexuals

by Steve Ray on October 22, 2020

This morning I had prepared to wax eloquent about the recently revealed comments by Pope Francis and the confusion and dismay they are causing with faithful Catholics and the jubilant “hurrays” coming from the  Catholics who would love to Church to fit the modern world.

Remember that GK Chesterton said, “The Catholic Church is the only thing which saves a man from the degrading slavery of being a child of his age.”

But I couldn’t do better than the excellent article written today in Crisis Magazine online entitled “Where Francis Leads, We Can’t Follow” written brilliantly by Michael Warren Davis. I hope he doesn’t mind I reproduce it here for you all to read and appreciate.


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

That’s a quote from Pope Francis. Pope Francis—the Bishop of Rome, the Vicar of Christ, the Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church. And not only has he come out in support of civil unions for same-sex couples: he has also confirmed old rumors that he did so in his native Argentina as early as 2010. For at least a decade, Francis has quietly but actively dissented from Church teaching on human sexuality.

Lest there be any doubt, in 2003 the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith—then led by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, who was appointed by John Paul II—declared:

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…. Legal recognition of homosexual unions or placing them on the same level as marriage would mean not only the approval of deviant behavior, with the consequence of making it a model in present-day society, but would also obscure basic values which belong to the common inheritance of humanity. The Church cannot fail to defend these values, for the good of men and women and for the good of society itself.

That is indeed the perennial teaching of the Catholic Church. And the Pope is now on the record dissenting from that teaching, publicly and unambiguously.

download (2)Up to this point, I’ve tried very hard to give Francis the benefit of the doubt. No longer. The Pope has made it abundantly clear that his mind is not with the mind of the Church. He doesn’t believe in the sacred deposit of the Magisterium. He doesn’t feel bound to the Church’s traditions.

Some readers will accept that implicitly. Others will not. So, let’s be very clear: One of the first principles of Catholic social teaching is that immoral acts must not be given legal sanction. That’s why the Church plainly teaches that abortion (CCC, 2273) and pornography (CCC, 2354) should be prohibited by law. We as Catholics believe that civil authorities must not condone vice, even implicitly.

For the Pope—or any Catholic—to endorse same-sex civil unions is wicked. It follows the exact same logic that Joe Biden uses to justify his support for abortion: “I’m personally opposed to killing babies in the womb, but I wouldn’t impose that view on women who want to kill their babies.” The Pope has just made that exact same argument for male sodomy.

This may be the most significant moment in papal history since Paul VI published Humanae Vitae. In fact, Francis’s comments are a kind of diabolical inversion of Humanae Vitae.

When he ruled that artificial contraception was always and everywhere immoral, Paul VI was addressing a live debate in the Church that had never been definitively resolved. And not only did he go against popular opinion: he contradicted many of his own leading theologians, including many “conservatives.” As for Francis, nobody was expecting him to weigh in on the marriage issue. This was a spontaneous remark, and on a matter that has long been settled by Church authorities. Only a small handful of “mainstream” theologians and bishops have ever signaled their support for civil unions.

download (3)Paul defended the Magisterium against vast legions of Sexual Revolutionaries outside the Vatican walls and their many fifth-columnists within. Francis has raised the white flag to the Sexual Revolution without their firing so much as a peashooter in his direction.

Some Catholics will take this as proof that Francis is consciously working to subvert traditional Church teaching. Others will assume he’s just theologically illiterate and, frankly, not very bright. Still others will conclude that he’s prone to spouting off on topics he neither understands nor really cares to understand. Many think he’s going senile, which might be the most charitable view. But I’ll leave that for the reader to decide.

At some level, it doesn’t matter. Whether the Pope is consciously or accidentally dissenting from the Church, he is dissenting from the Church. There’s no question about that.

Little wonder that progressive Catholics are thrilled by the Pope’s comments. Father James Martin, who has long worked to undermine the Church’s teachings on homosexuality, tweeted: “This is a major step forward in the church’s support for LGBTQ people.” His colleague at the Jesuit-run America Magazine, Michael J. O’Loughlin, likewise wrote: “People downplaying the Pope’s words, on camera, endorsing civil unions for gay couples should ask LGBT Catholics how the remarks make them feel…. I assure you this is big news.” Indeed, it is.

Of course, the Catholic Left will weaponize the Pope’s comments against orthodox believers. Father Daniel Horan, the wayward Franciscan, wonders “what bigoted church leaders who have been firing Catholic school teachers and parish ministers for entering into same-sex unions are thinking right now. Maybe they’re thinking about what their own resignation letters might look like.” No doubt. Progressive bishops and diocesan bureaucrats will use Francis’s endorsement as a cudgel against orthodox Catholics in our schools, colleges, and chanceries.

download (1)What’s astonishing is how many “conservative” Catholics can’t see that. Ryan T. Anderson, who gained prominence as a critic of Big Trans and now teaches at the University of Dallas, also took to Twitter in support of Francis. Dr Anderson noted that he himself had also “proposed something like ‘civil unions’ for non-married people.” Again, one tries to give Francis the benefit of the doubt. But that clearly crosses the line into cognitive dissonance.

Francis may be one of those fifth-columnists that Paul VI opposed. Or maybe he’s one of their useful idiots. But this much is perfectly clear: Pope Francis doesn’t think of himself as pope. Whatever his idea of the papacy is, he’s dead wrong.

The duty of the pope is to safeguard and clarify the Sacred Deposit of the Faith. He’s supposed to think with the mind of the Church and follow the Magisterium; instead, he speaks whatever happens to be on his mind and expects the Magisterium to follow. The papacy hasn’t humbled him, as it did his predecessor. It has emboldened him.

Francis embraces the worst Protestant caricature of his office. He sees himself as a man with universal competence, one given to him directly by God Himself. That competence allows him to opine authoritatively on any matter, sacred or secular, that happens to tickle his fancy. That’s not what a pope is, by any stretch of the Catholic imagination.

But we know that. We also know that, when the Pope flatly contradicts the Magisterium, we may ignore him. Better yet, we can—and we must—contradict him loudly, for the sake of those who might otherwise follow the Holy Father into error. “This isn’t what the Church teaches,” we say. “This isn’t what Catholics believe.”

What a horrible burden this pope has put on the faithful. A good Catholics wants nothing more than to respect, trust, and obey the Successor of Saint Peter. Francis has made that impossible for so many. If he were really as wise and compassionate as he believes himself to be, he would recognize how many of his poor children he’s leading into scandal and disbelief.

Yet sometimes a dutiful son can do nothing but resolve to be a bigger man than his father. And that’s the sad situation we now find ourselves in. Pope Francis is leading our family down a dangerous path, and we can’t “accompany” him on that journey. We have to plant our feet firmly in the Church’s sacred traditions, and encourage our brothers and sisters to do the same.

Pray for our Holy Father, who needs our prayers now more than ever. If you love him, stand your ground. Please God, he’ll turn away from his error someday. Then we, the faithful remnant, may lead him back home.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

carla leung October 22, 2020 at 4:24 PM

I was sad yesterday and after reading this I’m so depressed. I’m going to pray and cry. First the shutting down of church and now this. Fr Altman has been silenced, churches burned, communion on the hand, what else I wonder is coming…
my God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love thee I pray for those who do not believe do not adore do not hope and do not love thee

De Blasi October 22, 2020 at 10:42 PM

Thank you so much for the truth. I couldn’t have said it better myself so I’m sharing this with all the good Catholics that were appalled by the statement made by Pope Francis. The catechism of the Catholic Church explains it beautifully. And the Pope has no right to confuse the people he is supposed to lead with the truth. I find it odd that he came out with this liberal point of view two weeks before the election.

Mario October 23, 2020 at 12:57 AM

Nice read, and a timely one at that. This reminds me of Acts 10, where Peter still has reservations for Gentile conversions, his ministry with the Master notwithstanding. It takes a dream and a visit to Cornelius for him to realize what the Lord's plans are.

May we offer prayers for the Pope, that the Lord may also open his eyes.

STEVE RAY HERE: thanks Mario! That is a very astute observation and I appreciate it. Prayers for the pope, yes!

mulier October 23, 2020 at 4:29 AM

Why some people want to tell other people what to think about anything?
Do they really think they are wiser than others?…

Holy Mary, Mother of the Church, pray for us.
Jesus, I trust in Thee.

STEVE RAY HERE: The Catholic Church has a long history of informing us what is correct and incorrect, holy and sinful. When someone conducts our life contrary to the teachings of the church in an unholy and sinful matter, it is not arrogant or foolish to call them on it and tell them what they’re doing is wrong. If you’re referring to the homosexual issue, the Bible from Deuteronomy to the writings of Saint Paul are very clear that homosexuality is an abomination and a perversion and goes contrary to the natural law.

It’s not arrogant you’re foolish to say that. We are just reciting which scripture says, what God has clearly revealed and what the church is taught for 2000 years.

Bob October 23, 2020 at 12:08 PM

If this statement happens to be fake news, Pope Francis needs to make a strong statement that he did not mean this. Given some of the past statements that he has said, I would like to see him retire.

Liz October 24, 2020 at 4:19 PM

Steve, maybe you can help me here. I am so confused! I see so many, even my own bishop, claiming that the church takes no stance on civil unions because they’re a legal construct about relationships. If that were the case, then why did every bishop in America tell Catholics to oppose civil union and gay marriage laws when they were being proposed back in the early 2000s?

STEVE RAY HERE: No bishop or pope has any business or freedom to approve or condone same-sex unions of any kind either before 2000 or today. We must love the person with same-sex attraction but never condone or accept homosexual unions or conduct. There are many bishops today who are more politicians than pastors.

Joseph Goemans October 25, 2020 at 8:37 AM

Hi Steve, from reading the quote, I can fully understand how it is being so construed. But at the same time, the context of it doesn't seem to make sense that Pope Francis is speaking of civil unions (in fact I've seen a number of things claiming that the word he used was "coexistence"). From my reading of it, it seems as though Pope Francis is speaking out against families throwing out a son or daughter who experiences homosexual attraction. Hence the sentence, "Nobody should be thrown out or be made miserable because of it." And that is in complete accordance with Catholic teaching, and the example of Christ. Don't discriminate because of the kind of sin someone struggles with, but love them and care for their soul by providing gentle correction. In light of Pope Francis speaking about not throwing someone out of the family they grew up in, a civil "union" law doesn't make sense as he's not talking about homosexual relationships. This to me points to a gross misrepresentation of what Pope Francis actually said as opposed to Pope Francis directly providing an erroneous personal belief.

That being said, I do strongly feel that Pope Francis needs to be more prudent with his words, and I will continue to pray for him to be blessed with the gift of prudence. What are your thoughts on the perspective that Pope Francis was grossly misinterpreted across languages?

STEVE RAY HERE: Joseph, thanks for your comments and sensible thinking. I agree with much of what you say. However, many folks who know the language and the history of Pope Francis in this regard are suggesting that it means what it appears to mean, that he is sanctioning “civil unions” for homosexuals — different than marriages of course.

Let’s put it this way. 1) If he said what he said and it means what it appears to mean, we have a huge problem. 2) If it is not what he said or meant to say, and does nothing to correct the misunderstanding, we still have a huge problem.

His job is to teach clearly and to confirm the brethren. In either or both cases of my two scenarios, he is not teaching clearly and correctly and he is confusing the brethren and the world. Both are huge problems.

Thanks again Joseph for your kind, irenic tone and for sharing your thoughts.

John October 31, 2020 at 7:18 PM

What his Holiness proposes is really no different from allowing civil remarriages for divorced heterosexual people. Some people will be shocked, for now. Over time, this will all seem quite normal.

STEVE RAY HERE: Thanks for your comment John. I don’t think that is correct though. Civil remarriage are different that civil unions, though some like to claim they are. I don’t think that such things will be “normal” or at least I pray to God that is not the case. Thanks again and God bless.

Donald Link November 1, 2020 at 9:32 AM

Without seeming to be to sanguine about the Pope's views, I would note that in Church history there have been Popes with aberrant views that have caused some distress. When these individuals passed from the scene, somehow their opinions also retreated into deserved obscurity. Not to say that damage has not been done but this too shall pass.

STEVE RAY HERE: Don, very well and eloquently stated. Thanks!

Chris Aubert December 16, 2020 at 1:56 PM

Up front, I don’t think Pope Francis‘s statement was necessary. I also wish he hadn’t made it. That said, he did not say that civil unions are the same as marriage and he made no comment endorsing sodomy. It was simply a statement about the fact of civil unions. Of course, one can certainly presume that those in civil unions would engage in sodomy, but the fact is, he did not that those in civil unions should engage in sexual relations, and he did not endorse it. Isn’t it possible for conceivable that those in a civil union could possibly be chaste and be in a civil union for, say, some kind of legal reason?

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