Roman Catholic Hierarchy Tacitly Admits That They’re Losing the Marriage Debate

Pope Francis would have been following Vatican orders if he had supported civil unions while archbishop of Buenos Aires.

Controversy has arisen over whether Pope Francis advocated for a civil unions law in Argentina in 2010 while he served as Archbishop of Buenos Aires.  The New York Times and CNN quote sources saying that he did, while a source quoted by Catholic News Agency refutes those claims.

If then-Archbishop Bergoglio didn’t advocate for civil unions, he should have, according to the Vatican document “Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons“.

The document, which was written in 2003 by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI, and approved by Pope John Paul II, clearly directs Catholic politicians to “support proposals aimed at limiting the harm done” by proposed pro-equality legislation.

In 2010 Argentina, when passage of a marriage equality bill was increasingly probable, “limiting the harm done” would translate into supporting the substitution of a civil unions bill for a marriage equality bill.  By Vatican standards, same-sex civil unions are a lesser “evil” than same-sex marriage.

Since support for civil unions is clearly a fall-back position, any support for civil unions by the Catholic hierarchy constitutes a tacit admission that they have lost the proximate marriage equality debate.  With this in mind, it is interesting to see how frequently they and their lay cover groups like National Organization for Marriage have shown support for existing civil unions laws or neglected to oppose civil unions bills when marriage equality was in the offing.  The examples are mounting.  Here is an incomplete list:

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