Pope Francis indicates possible church support for same-sex civil unions
By Brody Levesque | ROME -- Pope Francis Wednesday indicated possible support for same-sex civil unions although the pontiff reiterated that the Church's position opposing same-sex marriage remains unchanged. In an interview with Italian daily newspaper Corriere della Sera, Francis suggested the Catholic Church could tolerate some types of same-sex civil unions as a practical measure to guarantee property rights and health care.
The pope said that "matrimony is between a man and a woman," 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."
A number of Catholic bishops have supported civil unions for same-sex couples, including Francis when he was the Archbishop of Buenos Aires.
In an interview with CNN a year ago this month, Marcelo Marquez, a leading Argentinian LGBTQ equality rights activist, said that during that nation's debate over same-sex marriage in 2010 he received a phone call from then Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the Archbishop of Buenos Aires. [Now Pope Francis]
According to Marquez, during that phone call Bergoglio seemed to be more open to discussion;
"He told me. ... 'I'm in favor of gay rights and in any case, I also favor civil unions for homosexuals, but I believe that Argentina is not yet ready for a gay marriage law.'"
Bergoglio had led the Catholic Church's public stance against legalizing same-sex marriage in Argentina. He engaged in a very public and at times acrimonious debate with President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and her government who supported the measure.
Cardinal Bergoglio called the proposed legislation "a destructive attack on God's plan." President de Kirchner fired back accusing the church of having "attitudes reminiscent of medieval times and the Holy Inquisition."
Pope Francis who marks his first year in office next Thursday, March 13, has sought to set a more tolerant tone for the Catholic church including comments expressing wider tolerance for LGBTQ people made last year.