Re: Pope Francis’ Comments on Same-Sex Civil Union

Dear brothers and sisters in the Archdiocese of Tokyo:

Re: Pope Francis’ Comments on Same-Sex Civil Union

An interview with Pope Francis in the documentary film “Francesco” has recently caught the attention of everyone. The comments made by the Holy Father have been reported worldwide and have received mixed reactions from inside and outside the church. As the Archbishop of Tokyo, I would like to share with you my views concerning the said comments:

1: Since we have not yet seen the documentary, it is difficult at this moment to know whether the Holy Father was accurately quoted in context. However, according to some reports, Pope Francis points out that within the family no one should be discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Pope Francis has always been consistent with his attitude towards issues like refraining from judging people by sexual orientation or gender identity and reflecting deeply on the Church’s judgmental attitude towards homosexuals (For example, the June 26, 2016 in-flight press conference during the papal visit to Armenia. Please refer also to the Apostolic Exhortation “Amoris Laetitia” 250).

Likewise, the church is opposed to discrimination against any person in the church community on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

2: The comments of Pope Francis are meant not only to refer to homosexuals living as partners, but express his attitude that all people must not face discrimination and that human dignity must be protected, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. This remark is consistent with the vision of the Holy Father as he repeatedly emphasized since his election to the papacy in 2013 the message of a church which is merciful, a church which does not discriminate against any person, and a church which goes forth, thus, fulfilling the call to protect all life.

In the latter part of his comments, it is said that the Holy Father was articulating his position concerning the debate on the legalization of same-sex marriage in Argentina about 10 years ago, to which he had spoken about extending legal protection without discrimination to same-sex couples living together.

Therefore, the pope’s comments do not pertain to any Catholic doctrine regarding the “Sacrament of Matrimony.” There have been no changes whatsoever in the teachings of the Catholic Church concerning the “Sacrament of Matrimony.” (Please refer to the Apostolic Exhortation ” Amoris Laetitia” 251)

The church, following our Lord Jesus, the Divine Mercy, strives to be a field hospital that is always merciful and walks together especially with the vulnerable in our society, in order to protect the dignity of God’s gift of life and to realize a society where no one faces discrimination.

Tarcisio Isao Kikuchi, SVD
Archbishop of Tokyo