As might be expected, this deviation from Church doctrine has delighted liberal Catholics and LGBT activists, and infuriated Catholic conservatives. But this problem was not entirely new to Francis. He had previously expressed his support for same-sex civil unions when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires, but only as an alternative to gay marriage. It was the first time that a pope had spoken publicly in favor of such a controversial issue.The 20-second clip in question, however, didn’t just raise eyebrows. It also raised suspicion. The setting, framing, and lighting – even the slightly askew position of the Pope’s pectoral cross – looked identical to an interview with veteran Vatican journalist Valentina Alazraki for Mexican channel Televisa a year and a half earlier. . This show, however, did not contain the explosive comments, nor did it have an official Vatican transcript of the interview.
But the Vatican transcript contained a clue. Although no trace could be found of the call for civil union, the Pope had indeed spoken the other sentences. But there was an important distinction: he had not spoken them consecutively, and he had referred to the right of homosexuals to be accepted into their own families. The documentary “Francesco” had now presented these comments as a cohesive whole, in favor of gay civil unions.
The plot swirled as the Vatican press office failed to respond to requests for clarification. Meanwhile, the film’s director – Oscar nominee Evgeny Afineevsky – insisted he had conducted his own talks with the Pope.
Finally, on Thursday evening, Televisa confirmed that Francis had indeed made the comments on civil unions to his correspondent in May 2019. Additionally, the broadcaster suggested that he removed them from the final cut because they were not. considered newsworthy. “The mention of same-sex unions was something the Pope had mentioned on other occasions before our meeting in 2019,” Televisa said in a statement to the Associated Press.
But the plot didn’t end there. As is customary, the papal interview was filmed with Vatican cameras. Anonymous sources from Televisa told multiple media outlets that the raw footage received from the Vatican did not include footage supporting gay civil unions. This begs the question: the comments had been removed from the final Televisa show, but by whom? Did the Mexican broadcaster cut them or did the Vatican remove them in 2019, only to later make them available to Afineevsky?
Ultimately, the mystery surrounding the provenance of the remarks on the images does not minimize their importance. For now, the Vatican has not disputed the content of the film, allowing the pope’s comments to be so specific. Vatican officials were present at the film’s launch, and the filmmaker says the Pope himself saw parts of the documentary.
Human Rights Watch praised Francis, saying his call for legal protection for same-sex couples would strengthen movements in countries like Poland and the Philippines, predominantly Catholic countries where same-sex couples are not recognized by the law.
Conservative Catholics, for their part, said the remarks continued to confuse the faithful. Conservative US Cardinal Raymond Burke, a frequent critic of Francis, said the remarks “are contrary to the teaching of Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition,” he wrote in a statement. “They cause wonder and error regarding the teaching of the Church among people of good will,” he said, and are in no way binding on Catholics.