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Pope Francis’ “Endorsement” of Homosexuality Riles Conservative Catholics
Category :- Religion Author :- L J KINGAH 
Posted on October 26, 2020, 12:00 am
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Pope Francis’ recent comments seeming to endorse same-sex civil unions for the first time as pontiff while being interviewed for the feature-length documentary "Francesco," which premiered at the Rome Film Festival have left most Catholics confused as to whether the church will change its doctrines concerning the controversial issue. The pontifical approval came midway through the film that delves into issues the pontiff cares about most, including the environment, poverty, migration, racial and income inequality and the people most affected by discrimination.

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"Homosexual people have the right to be in a family. They are children of God," Francis said in one of his sit-down interviews for the film. "You can't kick someone out of a family, nor make their life miserable for this. What we have to have is a civil union law; that way they are legally covered."

This is not the first time that Pope Francis has expressed readiness to welcome open homosexuals into the church. While serving as archbishop of Buenos Aires, Francis endorsed civil unions for gay couples as an alternative to same-sex marriages. However, he had never come out publicly in favour of civil unions as pope.

Catholic Church teaching holds that gay people must be treated with dignity and respect but that homosexual acts are "intrinsically disordered." A 2003 document from the Vatican's doctrine office stated that the church's respect for gay people "cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behaviour or legal recognition of homosexual unions." That document was signed by the then prefect of the office, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI and Francis' predecessor.

Pope Francis

The calls by the pontiff animated the social media and well as the mainstream media landscape in the country, which many condemning the comments, while others tried to stress the supremacy of love and not judging others. According to Rev Tatah Mbuy, Coordinator, Catholic Communications, National Episcopal Conference of Cameroon (NECC) the teachings of the Pope do not come from films, but rather through official communication channels available to the pontiff, stressing on the fact that “so God loves the sinner, but hates the sin”

However, the Pope's outreach to gay people dates to his first foreign trip in 2013, when he uttered the now-famous words "Who am I to judge," when asked during an airborne news conference returning home from Rio de Janeiro about a purportedly gay priest.

Since then, he has ministered to gay people and transsexual prostitutes and welcomed people in gay partnerships into his inner circle. One of them was his former student, Yayo Grassi, who along with his partner visited Francis at the Vatican's Washington, D.C., embassy during the pope's 2015 visit to the U.S.

The Vatican publicized that encounter, making video and photos of it available after Francis was ambushed during that same visit by his then-ambassador, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, who invited the anti-same-sex marriage activist Kim Davis to meet with the pope.

News of the Davis audience made headlines at the time and was viewed by conservatives as a papal stamp of approval for Davis, who was jailed for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses. The Vatican, however, vigorously sought to downplay it, with the Vatican spokesman saying the meeting by no means indicated Francis' support for her or her position on same-sex marriage.

Pope Francis

However, the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was fervently opposed to same-sex marriage when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires. Then, he launched what gay activists remember as a "war of God" against Argentina's move to approve same-sex marriage.

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