Hinting at a possible significant change in Vatican policy, Pope Francis has appeared to suggest that gay civil unions may be acceptable to the church.
To date, the Catholic Church has vehemently opposed and lobbied against any attempts around the world to legally recognise same-sex relationships
In an interview published on Wednesday by the Corriere della Sera daily, the Pontiff made it clear that marriage could only be between one man and one woman.
However, when asked about the church accepting civil unions, he said: “The secular state uses civil unions to accommodate various arrangements of living together, driven by the need to regulate the economic relationship between people, such as ensuring health care.”
He added: “These are pacts of coexistence of various kinds, of which I could not identify the different forms. We have to look at different cases and evaluate them in their variety.”
The possibility of the Vatican coming to accept civil unions would help the church regain some credibility in a changing and evolving world.
However, it would first need to relook at its stance towards homosexuality. According to official Catholic dogma, while gay people are accepted, their sexual acts are not. These are described as “acts of grave depravity” and as “intrinsically disordered” and “contrary to the natural law”.
In July last year, Francis said: “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” He later stated that the church should not be obsessed by minor “dogmatic and moral teachings.”