Bishop Thomas Zinkula shares these comments regarding the thoughts of Pope Francis on civil unions:
Some people are applauding the Holy Father’s comment on civil unions and others are raising an alarm. However, what he said is not Magisterial teaching; he didn’t invoke his office to issue an authoritative teaching. He spoke instead in a pastoral manner.
One of his points was that families love, or at least should love, their family members, even when they have a same-sex attraction and are in a same-sex relationship. Since everyone is created in the image and likeness of God, everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. The pope also defended human rights. People in long-term, stable relationships should enjoy social, legal and economic guarantees.
In any case: 1) Pope Francis did not repudiate Catholic teaching that marriage is a permanent, faithful and fruitful sacramental union entered into freely by one man and one woman. 2) He has consistently taught that such a marriage is God’s plan for having and raising children. 3) His endorsement of civil unions was not an endorsement of homosexual activity.