A number of commentators have recently suggested that loyalty to Catholic teaching, and especially to Pope Francis, would allow, even require, support for same-sex marriage; by implication, the Australian bishops misunderstand Catholic teaching and have been disloyal to Pope Francis by saying Catholics should vote NO. But what has Pope Francis actually said about this?
In April 2010, while still Archbishop of Buenos Aires, he issued a strongly worded pastoral letter on behalf of his fellow bishops against the redefinition of marriage in Argentine law. He reminded public authorities of their responsibility to protect marriage and its unique contribution to the common good. He pointed out that the state is not discriminating unjustly when it requires a man and a woman to make a marriage: “it merely recognises a natural reality”. The future pope continued: “A marriage – made up of man and woman – is not the same as the union of two people of the same sex. To distinguish is not to discriminate but to respect differences… At a time when we place emphasis on the richness of pluralism and social and cultural diversity, it is a contradiction to minimise fundamental human differences. A father is not the same as a mother. We cannot teach future generations that preparing yourself for planning a family based on the stable relationship between a man and a woman is the same as living with a person of the same sex.”