Pope Francis' comments endorsing civil unions for same-sex couples really didn't, the Vatican says. A letter has been sent out saying that the film Francesco took the pope's answers in a 2019 interview out of context, putting two answers to different questions together to leave the impression that he backs a change in church doctrine. As edited, the letter says, the pope's words lacked "the proper contextualization, which has led to confusion," CNN reports. When Francis said, "what we need is a civil union law," the letter says he was referring to a same-sex marriage law in Argentina. He opposed that law as archbishop of Buenos Aires a decade ago. In the interview, he was talking about providing legal protection to same-sex couples but wasn't endorsing marriage as an option for them, the Vatican said.
The pope also says in the film that gay couples are "children of God and have a right to a family." He meant "a son or daughter with a homosexual orientation should never be discriminated against within the family," the letter says. The Vatican Secretary of State's message, meant to inform bishops around the world, referred to the "various reactions and interpretations" of the pope's answers, per the New York Times. The pope has signaled support for protections in the past, but the Catholic Church has left no room for such a change. A 2003 statement signed by the future Pope Benedict XVI warned that "respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behavior or to legal recognition of homosexual unions." Benedict, Francis' predecessor, called homosexuality "an intrinsic moral evil." (The Vatican might have cut the quote once already.)