Vatican Is Silent After Pope’s Same-Sex Union Bombshell
Pope Francis speaks during the United Nations General Assembly. (Photographer: Tiffany Hagler-Geard/Bloomberg)

Vatican Is Silent After Pope’s Same-Sex Union Bombshell

Less than 24 hours after Pope Francis appeared to back same-sex civil unions, the Vatican is scrambling to respond to comments that took the most senior levels of the Catholic Church by surprise.

The Vatican’s vast communication network -- which includes radio, television and a daily paper -- has remained silent. It reflects how the entire media operation built around the pope was also kept in the dark about his change of view. His own official Twitter feed makes no mention of it.

The pope’s spokesman hasn’t returned repeated calls from Bloomberg News, or answered emails. The press office meanwhile is struggling to formulate an official statement. The documentary by film maker Evgeny Afineevsky chronicles Pope Francis’s approach to pressing social issues.

Vatican Is Silent After Pope’s Same-Sex Union Bombshell

What everyone wants to know is whether Francis really meant it when he indicated same-sex couples should enjoy legal protection along with heterosexuals joined in marriage. In Catholicism, this has long been considered taboo.

In an interview included in the documentary “Francesco,” that premiered Wednesday at the Rome Film Festival, the Pope seemed to break with the Catholic Church’s longstanding conservativism when it comes to LGBTQ rights.

“They’re children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out, or be made miserable because of it,” he said, speaking in Spanish. “What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered. I stood up for that.”

Two people working under the Vatican-controlled media were told to ignore the story. A top Vatican official said a response was still being hashed out.

Such a change in policy would normally come in the form of a papal document, such as an encyclical, not blurted out in a film.

Questions are now surfacing about when Francis first made the remarks. The interview featured in the documentary is identical to one he gave Mexican broadcaster Televisa in 2019. But when it aired, it did not include his comments on civil unions.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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