Pope Francis has likely not signalled a new acceptance of civil unions by the Catholic Church, the Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn says, reports The Sydney Morning Herald.
Archbishop Christopher Prowse was responding to an interview the Pope gave to Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera and subsequent worldwide reports that the Pontiff had indicated a new openness to accepting civil unions.
In the interview, Pope Francis reiterated that gay marriage could not be accepted by the Church. 'Marriage is between a man and a woman,' he said.
But he appeared to leave the door open for the church to support other formally recognised relationships that would provide economic security and healthcare. He also called for women to play a greater role in the Church.
Archbishop Prowse said he had read a full transcription the news story and checked it in Italian. He said it was likely the comments had been misinterpreted, saying Pope Francis had indicated he was aware of the different types of civil unions around the world, not that he would change Church teachings.
The Pope had reiterated his support for traditional heterosexual marriage, the Archbishop said. 'It's hardly a green light for civil ceremonies,' Archbishop Prowse said.
Archbishop Prowse said the Pope's interview showed his pastoral approach and a willingness to talk to followers about relationships. 'A willingness to dialogue isn't a willingness to compromise,' he said.
Bishop Peter Comensoli, of Sydney Archdiocese, said while the Pope said marriage was between a man and a woman, he 'recognises individual situations and all sorts of positions people are in'.
'In terms of other arrangements, and those in de facto relationships, we respect the laws of the State,' the Pope said. 'We understand these arrangements are often around things to do with economic relations between people and questions of care and health.'