BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — Last week, Pope Francis became the first pontiff to seemingly endorse same-sex civil unions.
In a statement that stimulated widespread controversy, the Catholic News Agency reported that the Pope said:
“Homosexual people have a right to be in a family. They’re children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out or be made miserable over it. What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered.”Pope Francis, “Francesco” documentary
The Pope made the statement in “Francesco,” a new documentary that premiered last Wednesday in Rome.
In the Panhandle, local pastors said the Pope’s words were misunderstood.
Pastor Jesse Nelson of Macedonia Baptist Church in Panama City said he was surprised by the Pope’s statement. And while it does not affect what he shares with his congregation, he says it may have more of an impact on same-sex civil union rights internationally.
“Protection for civil union from a legal perspective because that is not around the world,” Nelson said. “So, not necessarily what he has toward the United States but more but I believe more the third world and evolving nations is what he is also asking for is the protection for same-sex civil unions in those nations.”
Pensacola-Tallahassee Catholic Diocese communications director Sharmane Adams said in a statement to News 13 that Pope Francis’s response in the documentary was not an official papal teaching.
“The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that the sacrament of marriage is solely between a man and a woman,” Adams said. “The marital union between man and woman is joined together by God, where they are united for life and have an openness to the procreation of life.”
“All people are children of God and created in his image,” she added. “Therefore, as his people, we are to respect all men and women regardless of sexual orientation. ”
Overall, local congregations said this statement will not change the teachings of the Catholic Church.