MANILA, Philippines — The country’s bishops on Monday sought to explain that while Pope Francis had voiced out his support for same-sex civil unions, his stance on allowing gay marriage in the Catholic Church will likely remain unchanged.
Francis had recently appeared in a documentary in Rome where he was quoted to have said that same-sex couples “have the right to be legally protected” and have a family under civil unions.
His remarks had drawn mixed reactions in the predominantly Catholic Philippines, with LGBT groups as well as government welcoming it, but also meeting doubts from some members of the clergy.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines in a statement said the Pope is speaking as a Church leader who also refuses to turn away those who “live their lives in a manner that he does not approve of.”
“He is not out to destroy our morals and orthodoxy,” said acting CBCP president and Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David. “He just wants to do as Jesus himself did. He valued being kind and compassionate more than being right and righteous.”
Francis’ remarks that are seen as a move to be more welcoming to LGBT is also because he is aware of “the extent of the bullying, rejection, and exclusion that many homosexuals normally go through,” David added.
The CBCP said Francis, while he was still archbishop of Buenos Aires, sought to extend pastoral care to homosexuals, but “stood his ground” when discussions on legalizing same-sex marriage grew in Argentina.
“The word ‘marriage’ is a historical word. Ever since, in humanity and not only in the Church, it has always been between a man and a woman. One cannot change that; it is the nature of things. Let’s call them ‘civil unions.’ Let’s not play with the truth,” the bishops quoted Francis in a 2018 interview with French sociologist Dominique Wolton.
CBCP added that the Pope had said the remarks without compromising the Church’s teachings.
“It is just that he consistently refuses to reject those who are unable to enter into marriage and build family because of circumstances in their lives,” the statement said.
Malacañang has said that President Rodrigo Duterte is for the passage of same-sex civil unions in the Philippines.
His spokesman, Harry Roque, said in a briefing that Catholic lawmakers have lost basis to oppose it now that the Pope has spoken on the issue.
But Senate President Vicente Sotto III said he doubts that such would hurdle in Congress, as he said same-sex unions are “tolerated, but not in the legal sense.” His remarks had since earned him criticism from Rep. Geraldine Roman (Bataan), the first transgender lawmaker in the country, who said Sotto was acting “more popish than the Pope.”
Here are major updates on the legalization of same-sex marriage globally.
The Supreme Court of the Philippines junks the petition on same-sex marriage, citing the “lack of standing” of petitioner, lawyer Jesus Falcis who asked the court to declare unconstitutional provisions of the Family Code identifying marriage as a contract between a man and a woman.
The high court found Falcis to have violated principle of hierarchy of courts and failed to raise an “actual controversies.”
“It is only through the existence of actual facts and real adversarial presentations that this Court can fully weigh the implications and consequences of its pronounces,” read a press statement the Supreme Court’s information office released.
Taiwan’s first official same-sex weddings kick off in a landmark moment for LGBT rights in Asia, as government offices open their doors to welcome same-sex couples wanting to register as married.
Two couples — one male, one female — were the first to arrive at a government office in downtown Taipei, kissing and embracing before signing their marriage certificates, the culmination of the three-decade fight for equal rights.
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