How the Pope’s comments about same-sex unions resonate in the Ozarks


SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Pope Francis recently voiced support for the LGBTQ community.

The pope’s comments, shown in a new documentary that just came out, made him the first pope to endorse same-sex civil unions.

In the documentary, Pope Francis said “homosexual people have the right to be in a family. They are children of God. You can’t kick someone out of a family… Nor make their life miserable for this.”

There have been some speculations as to whether or not the pope was maybe mistranslated or when the pope actually talked about civil unions.

But this sparked an interesting conversation regarding LGBTQ individuals within the Catholic church.

“My initial reaction is that I think he’s trying to be pastoral. When he said that people should have a place in the family, maybe he was speaking to the parents, love your children, welcome your children, and that’s not a bad message,” said Bishop Edward M. Rice, with the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau.

Bishop Rice said he would like some clarification on what the pope said, “we’re wondering, when did he say it, what did he actually say, and how was it said.”

But his endorsement doesn’t really change much, and will not change the doctrine, “it really doesn’t mean much to us because a civil union is a legal contract. The state does such things. We have no bearing on that, even the term civil union, we don’t use that term in a catholic church, we use the sacrament of matrimony,” Bishop Rice said.

KOLR10’s Frances Lin spoke to a gay man part of the organization PFLAG of Springfield.

“From a global standpoint, the endorsement from such an important religious leader will have some impacts in countries that are still not providing equality and providing rights, especially not marriage equality to their LGBTQ citizens. However in the united states, we have marriage equality, and he’s endorsing civil unions which is a completely different system that we don’t believe is true equality,” said Aaron Shekorra, vice president of PFLAG Springfield.

Civil unions and marriages are not the same things.

A civil union is only recognized at the state level.

It provides rights including parental rights and spousal privilege.

A marriage provides all rights a civil union has, plus social security and immigration, which civil unions do not provide.

“But the issue is that if you have two separate systems, you could have two separate sets of rights that go along with those systems,” Schekorra said.

“It’s two adults who love each other who want to spend the rest of their lives together, they sometimes want to have children. My husband and I own a home, we hope to have children one day, we hope to provide a loving home for children in need. And at the end of the day, there really is no difference other than our genders,” Schekorra said.

“The gospel calls all of us to discipleship. The heterosexual, the homosexual,” said Bishop Rice, “so if people are interested in that, black, brown, white, whatever their background might be, they are welcome to discover the encounter with the sacraments.”

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