BRASÍLIA – Pope Francis’ support for same-sex civil unions laws, released on Wednesday, 21, in a documentary shown at the Rome Film Festival, put his pontificate again on the line of historical ruptures. With the message, he rekindled the fierce dispute with the conservative wing of the Catholic Church and brought attention back to the Vatican, which had literally been emptied since the beginning of the covid-19 pandemic. “What we need to create is a civil union law,” he said.
When he presented himself as pope to the crowd in St. Peter’s Square in 2013, Jorge Mario Bergoglio joked that the cardinals had gone to get a new pontiff at the end of the world, in reference to Argentina. Since then, Francisco has never abandoned the gesture of dialoguing outside the walls of the Vatican. Not to play with the flood metaphor. The search for distant herds has become, above all, a constant clash with conservative wings from the United States and Europe. The inclusive stance and acceptance of differences marks the pontificate.
In the defense of more legal protection for homosexuals, Francisco marked a distance, however, from equating this union with the marriage between man and woman, the sacrament. According to Catholic interpretation, the family continues to be formed by a man and a woman, with the objective of having children. Although it is in the orbit of law, that is, far from religion, the theme of civil union, nevertheless, always causes shakes in influential sectors of Catholicism, who campaign openly against it and remove bishops and priests from their convenience, obliged to give explanations in their parishes and dioceses.
In March, the pope prayed alone in the main square of Christianity, a unique scene in history. The new coronavirus was advancing. The image of the lone global leader was broken by the documentary Francisco, by the American of Russian origin Evgeny Afineevsky, in which he speaks out in favor of civil union between homosexuals. The interviews were conducted at the Vatican from 2018. The last one took place in June this year.
At a time when impressions were circulating in Rome about a certain tiredness in the pope’s proposal to oxygenate the Church, Francis again showed his conviction in a pontificate of the “end of the world”, peripheral. In fact, the 2013 conclave sought, after the papacy of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, for a name of change. The performance of Cardinal Bergoglio was well known.
As archbishop of Buenos Aires, he strongly opposed the equalitarian marriage law in 2010. Passed during the government of Cristina Kirchner, the law was countered as a “destructive pretense of God’s plan” by the then president of the Espiscopal Commission of Argentina. Cardinal Bergoglio at the time manifested himself internally in the organ in favor of civil union, considered a “lesser evil”, but he would have been defeated in the Argentine episcopate.
Advances in issues such as homosexual union have been an obstacle to Francis, seen as a progressive in the Church. At the last Synod of the Amazon, for example, he was accused of promoting heresies and stepped back from authorizing the priestly ordination of married men as priests and from promoting women in the ecclesial hierarchy.
Both proposals came out of the Church’s bases in South America, had the support of the local episcopate and countries in Europe, but were left behind because of the possibility of reinforcing a schism in the Roman Curia. At the Family Synod, years before, a section that proposed welcoming gay people was also on the way. A sign that Francisco’s “revolution” was coming up against moral issues related to sexuality.
Last year, Francis had promoted to cardinals some names open to the cause in the Vatican. Among them, the Italian cardinal Matteo Zuppi. He also received in audience the American Jesuit priest James Martin, who works with Catholic LGBT groups and advocates for more openness in the Vatican. Martin defined the pope’s speech in the interview as “historical”. “What makes the pope’s comments on same-sex civil unions so relevant? First, he says that as pope, not as archbishop of Buenos Aires. Second, he is clearly supporting, not simply tolerating, civil unity. Third, he is saying that on camera, not in private, “wrote the Jesuit on Twitter.
For the researcher Filipe Domingues, doctor in Social Sciences at the Gregorian University of Rome, the pope advanced in previous positions when citing the right to the family, within the “pastoral” proposal of his pontificate. “He was very clear. They have the right to be part of a family, for me it is a great novelty. It is a pastoral approach that he has taken, to find people where they are, to meet and bring them closer to God. , instead of requiring them to change before being welcomed “, says Domingues. “He avoids these issues a little because the church already has a teaching and speaks when it wants to add something new, in this case it seems to me the right to be part of a family.”
The difference between the sacrament of marriage, which remains unshakable, and civil laws for homosexual union has always been highlighted by the Church. It could not be otherwise when it comes to an ancient institution that for decades has seen competition from evangelical religions in developing countries increase. Far from changing a doctrine of the Church, the pope’s speech, however, has spread like a fuse in the digital age and leads the clergy to have to explain to their bases a position on a topic that they consider to be clarified.
Father and theologian Manoel José de Godoy, a former social National Conference of Bishops of Brazil (CNBB), estimates that Francisco made yet another movement in favor of inclusion, even against the campaign of fundamentalist groups that blocked advances in the synods of the Family and the Amazon. “It is a recognition of a given of reality,” he told the Estadão. “Gay couples exist, are marginalized and need protection from the law, because otherwise they will continue to be murdered, rejected by the family, without financial support in the death of their partner, this whole situation”, he added. “It is not a rupture or a shame with the teaching profession.”
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