Updated: October 25, 2020 03:46 AM GMT
Pope Francis. (Photo: AFP)
While there is no doubt that Pope Francis said civil laws should protect the rights of gay couples, some mystery shrouds the context in which he said it and the way it is used in a new film.The film, "Francesco," which was released Oct. 21, presents the pope saying: "Homosexual people have a right to be in a family. They are 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."When the documentary by Evgeny Afineevsky debuted at the Rome Film Festival and some news outlets focused on the 20-second clip referring to civil unions, a Vatican official dismissed it as old news, pointing out that the comments were from a 2019 interview with Valentina Alazraki of the Mexican television Televisa. But the reference to civil unions does not appear in the one-hour, 17-minute interview broadcast by Televisa and available on YouTube, nor does it appear in the Vatican's Spanish or Italian transcripts of the pope's conversation with Alazraki.And, in fact, the whole 20-second clip in "Francesco" appears to be a reedit, placing phrases the pope did say in the interview together in an order not found in the original.In statements to the Associated Press, The Washington Post and The New York Times, Televisa confirmed that the pope's comment about civil unions was part of the interview he gave to Alazraki, which was filmed by the Vatican television center. When Televisa was given the footage, the station said, the civil unions passage had been removed.Televisa spokesman Ruben Acosta Montoya told The Washington Post in an email, "Someone at the Vatican gave us the part that we did broadcast, and later they gave the rest of the material to someone else," specifically, Afineevsky.The Vatican press office did not respond to requests for clarification.Pope Francis has made similar references in the past to the need to provide legal protections for the rights of nonmarried people living together in a stable way -- rights, for example, involving inheritance, health care decisions and visitation when one is ill.And reporters are not the only ones he has discussed it with; Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco issued a statement Oct. 21 saying the pope talked about such protections with the bishops of California when they made their "ad limina" visits in January.