Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, December 4th, 2020

Pope’s civil union words spark reactions around the globe

Pope’s civil union words spark reactions around the globe

MEXICO CITY- Across the globe, Pope Francis’ comments endorsing same-sex civil unions were received by some as encouragement for an advancing struggle and condemned by others as an earth-shaking departure from church doctrine.
In the Philippines, officials saw the potential for political change in the wake of the pope’s words. In Zimbabwe, activists for equal rights applauded the move, but doubt it would quickly bring change in a country where discrimination against the LGBT community continues to be widespread.
Nowhere was reaction more divided than in Latin America, where the Roman Catholic Church remains influential — and where some countries have legalized same-sex marriage in recent years over objections of the church.
Earlier this year, Costa Rica became the sixth country in Latin America to allow same-sex marriage. Ecuador legalized it last year, and Panama is in the midst of a heated debate on the subject now. It is also permitted in some parts of Mexico as well as Brazil, Argentina, Colombia and Uruguay.
The latest push has been propelled in part by an opinion issued in January 2018 by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. It said the 25 countries that signed the American Convention on Human Rights had to guarantee that all rights available to heterosexual couples were also extended to homosexual couples.
The Catholic Church, however, has fought against these changes. When Francis was serving as archbishop of Buenos Aires, he endorsed civil unions for gay couples as an alternative to same-sex marriages.
Francis apparently made the newly released comments in a 2019 interview, a portion of which was not aired publicly until the documentary “Francesco” premiered Wednesday.
The mixed reaction was on display in Mexico, where the pontiff’s comments were condemned by conservative sectors and praised by more liberal church leaders.
“The Episcopal conferences have been stunned,” said Hugo Valdemar, a former spokesman for the Mexico City archdiocese who is close to Cardinal Emeritus Norberto Rivera, one of Mexico’s most conservative church leaders. “I believe there is going to be an ominous silence from some and applause from the most liberal.”
Pope Francis’ comments go against all of the teaching from Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI and “that is what is disconcerting,” Valdemar said. “Even though it is not an official document it is an opinion that the pope can’t allow himself because he is not a monarch with absolute authority, he must act within the framework of church doctrine.” (AP)