Pope Francis says Benedict Backed Him on LGBTQ Couples

Francis has confirmed the Catholic Church’s opposition to LGBTQ marriages, but he has repeatedly said same-sex couples have a right to be protected by civil union laws.
LA Independent News Services

Pope Francis says that his considerably more conservative predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, backed his support for same-sex civil unions.
The made the revelation in his new book, The Successor: My Memories of Benedict XVI, published last week in Spain and based on interviews with journalist Javier Martinez-Brocal.
“No one is scandalized if I give a blessing to an entrepreneur who perhaps exploits people: and that is a most serious sin,” Francis notably said in an interview in the Italian magazine Credere earlier this year.
“Whereas they are scandalized if I give it to a homosexual… This is hypocrisy! We all have to respect each other. Everyone!”
According to Reuters, which got an advanced look at the book, Francis recounts an incident in which a group of cardinals approached Benedict — who stepped down in 2013, becoming the first Pope to do so in six centuries — about Francis’s 2020 endorsement of legal recognition of civil unions between same-sex couples.
“They showed up at his home to practically put me on trial and they accused me in front of him of backing same-sex marriage,” Francis recalls.
In fact, while Francis recently granted his approval for Catholic priests to bless same-sex unions, he has never supported same-sex marriage and has repeatedly drawn a distinction between marriage and civil unions.
“‘Marriage’ is a historical word,” he wrote in a 2017 book. “Always in humanity, and not only within the Church, it’s between a man and a woman… we cannot change that. This is the nature of things. This is how they are. Let’s call them ‘civil unions.’”
Nevertheless, the unnamed cardinals reportedly decried Francis’s position as heresy to Benedict. According to Francis, Benedict listened to the cardinals’ complaints and “helped them distinguish things,” arguing that the current Pope’s position was “no heresy.”
This is not the first time Francis has mentioned his predecessor’s defense of his position on same-sex civil unions. In February 2023, Francis told reporters that Benedict had approached several theologian-cardinals to examine a complaint about his support of civil unions brought to the former pontiff by an unnamed theologian.
“They explained it, and so the story ended,” Francis said, according to the National Catholic Reporter.
Francis’s claims will likely surprise many Catholics and LGBTQ+ people, as Benedict, who died in December 2022, took a much harder line on homosexuality than his successor.
As Dr. Warren J. Blumenfeld noted in a piece for LGBTQ Nation last year, Benedict warned in 2012 that same-sex marriage would “undermine the family, threaten human dignity and the future of humanity itself.”
In a 2008 Christmas address, he also compared saving humanity from homosexuality to preventing environmental catastrophe.
Francis, by contrast, has resolutely defended his decision to allow the blessing of same-sex unions.
The Pope noted, however, that “I don’t bless a ‘same-sex marriage.’ I bless two people who love each other, and I also ask them to pray for me.”
“Always in confession, when these situations come, homosexual people, remarried people, I always pray and bless,” Francis added. “Blessing should not be denied to anyone.”