Main | Friday, June 14, 2013

Pope Dances Around Marriage Issue

In a speech that the Associated Press is characterizing as "diplomatically wading into the gay marriage issue," today Pope Francis notably did not explicitly denounce same-sex unions when speaking about family values with the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Francis, who vigorously opposed gay marriage in his native Argentina, and Archbishop Justin Welby chatted, prayed and had lunch together at the Vatican in their first encounter since both were installed in March. Welby, the spiritual leader of the 77 million-strong Anglican Communion, has opposed proposed legislation in Britain that would legalize gay marriage, saying it seeks to abolish and redefine the institution and would weaken one of the cornerstones of society.

He delivered a speech last week before the House of Lords before it moved the gay marriage bill one step closer to becoming law. The legislation would enable gay couples to get married in both civil and religious ceremonies in England and Wales. In his remarks to Welby, Francis said he hoped they could collaborate in promoting the sacredness of life "and the stability of families founded on marriage." He noted that Welby had recently spoken out on the issue, a reference to his House of Lords speech.

Significantly, though, Francis didn't specify that marriage should be based on a union between a man and woman, which is how Benedict XVI and John Paul II routinely defined it in a way that made clear their opposition to same-sex marriage. Vatican officials said Francis' phrasing was a diplomatic attempt to make his point without making a provocative pronouncement, particularly during an inaugural meeting with Welby that was aimed at getting to know one another.
The Pope had previously surprised Vatican watchers by remaining silent on same-sex marriage in Britain and France.

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