The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) remains consistent with the Church’s stand on marriage and family amid the backlash and confusion brought by Pope Francis’ new massaging on the issue about same-sex civil unions.
In a documentary film entitled FRANCESCO that premiered in Italy last week, an old interview with Pope Francis conducted in Spanish appeared where he said: “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.”
But Caloocan Bishop Virgilio David, acting CBCP president, said on Friday that the Pope did not change the Catholic Church’ teaching on the issue.
“Pope Francis has been consistent in defending natural marriage as a divinely willed institution between a man and woman, committed to live together for life, for the purpose of conception and rearing and education of children, for the good of society. Even as a Cardinal in Buenos Aires, he has spoken boldly in favor of natural marriage,” he said.
David also cited an old article where the then Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the Archbishop of Buenos Aires and Primate of Argentina, said that if a proposed bill giving same-sex couples the opportunity to marry and adopt children should be approved, it will “seriously damage the family.”
But he defended that the Church cares for same-sex attracted individuals.
“As a good pastor and leader of the Catholic Church, we see Pope Francis calling for legal protection of “civil unions” between same sex attracted persons which we cannot deny exist,” he said.
“While their union is in no way being endorsed as a marriage and a sacrament, the Pope is calling that rights that accrue to them as legal persons and children of God be given them and be covered by law,” he added.
“To make an imperfect analogy, even offenders of the law have rights and those rights have to be covered and protected by law. Such protection is in no way an endorsement of criminal activity but simply an assurance that everybody has rights before the law.”
The prelate said the Pope’s statement on a call for a “law on civil union” was made in the context of a casual interview.
“Pope Francis was not speaking in a position of teaching as the supreme teacher of the faith. A Pope’s personal views on things and formal proclamations can have differences in nuances and interpretations,” he said.
“Personal interviews and casual conversations do not have the power to effect changes in doctrinal and pastoral programs of the Church. Neither do they have the doctrinal, canonical and pastoral weight of a formal encyclical or apostolic exhortation,” he emphasized.
Should there be questions on what the Pope “formally” teaches and endorses as the leader of the Catholic Church, David said they turn to official documents like Encyclicals, Apostolic Exhortations and Letters.
“Let us continue to pray for the Holy Father and his solemn duty to sail the bark of Peter safely afloat amidst the confusion and challenges of the modern times,” the prelate concluded.