This handout picture taken on October 20, 2020, and released on October 21, 2020, by the Vatican Media, shows Pope Francis, wearing a face mask, descending the stairs of the Basilica of Santa Maria in Aracoeli prior to an inter-religious ceremony for peace in Campidoglio Square, at Rome's Capitoline Hill. (Vatican Media / AFP)
Pope Francis has not endorsed same-sex marriages, and the Church's view on the issue has not changed in any way, asserted a group of India bishops, accusing media of reports of creating confusion.
Senior Catholic leaders said media reports that Pope Francis has endorsed same-sex marriages was a misinterpretation of Papal statements.
"There is no change in the Catholic Church's stand on homosexuality," Said Cardinal George Alencherry, the head of the eastern rite Syro-Malabar Church based in southern Kerala state, in a statement on Oct. 22.
The statement came after media reports said Pope Francis same-sex people also need a family and legal protection for same-sex marriage in a documentary titled "Francesco" and premiered in Rome Oct. 21.
Pope Francis has always asserted the need for support for young same-sex people, speaking against families deserting them, Church leaders say. He also stresses the need for legal protection for same-sex people, even when they live together, they said.
Catholicism in 21st Century China
Read the Mission in Asia Essays
Pope Francis also consistently said that all people all are children of God, and the Church should not discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation.
Papal statements "were misquoted and misinterpreted" to say the pope has endorsed same-sex marriage Father Nigel Barrett, spokesperson for Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai.
"There is no deviation from the teachings and the official position of the Church with regards to homosexuality," said Father Nigel Barret told UCA News on Oct. 23.
Cardinal Gracias is a member of the Council of Cardinals, a team handpicked by Pope Francis to advise him on reforming the Church's administrative system.
"When he says they (same-sex people) have a right to be in a family, he means they should be cared for, accepted, and loved. That does not mean that they can marry or form a family," the priest clarified.
"In the Catholic Church, marriage is still understood as the union of a man and a woman, and there is no change in this position," Father Barrett said, adding, "the pope was only referring to civil unions, which is not marriage."
Cardinal Alencherry further explained that the Church does not "announce teachings on issues of importance such as marriage and family life through documentaries."
"The stand of the Church on same-sex orientation and their activities is that they should be treated separately," Cardinal Alencherry said in a statement issued on Oct. 22.
"The Church has also not given recognition to the co-habitation of LGBT people as marriage," the statement said.
Several countries have accepted co-habitation of LGBT people "as a civil union, and the Church is seriously contemplating on addressing their spiritual needs," the bishops' statement said.