(USA TODAY) -- Marriages can only be between a man and a woman, but the Roman
Catholic Church could tolerate some types of same-sex civil unions, Pope
Francis said in a wide-ranging interview published Wednesday in an
The interview with Corriere della Sera, translated by the Catholic News Service, suggested that Francis viewed the unions as a practical way to protect property rights and access to health care.
is between a man and a woman," he said. But he added that efforts to
"regulate diverse situations of cohabitation (are) driven by the need to
regulate economic aspects."
The news service notes that a year
ago the president of the Pontifical Council for the Family said some
legal arrangements are justifiable to protect the inheritance rights of
But the news service says that Francis is the first pope to "indicate even tentative acceptance of civil unions."
Francis made global news in July when he said he won't "judge" gay
priests. "If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good
will, who am I to judge?" the pope said during a back-and-forth with
reporters on a flight home to Rome after a weeklong trip to Brazil.
In his interview with Corriere della Sera, the
pope also dismissed his own popularity, saying a baseless mythology has
grown up around him. He said he has continued his longtime practice of
phoning people who write him, but that rumors that he goes out at night
and feeds the homeless are untrue.
"To portray the pope as a kind
of superman, a type of star, strikes me as offensive," he said. "The
pope is a man who laughs, weeps, sleeps soundly and has friends like
everybody else. A normal person."
On other issues:
-- Francis praised Pope Paul VI's 1968 letter Humanae Vitae
that rejected birth control, but added that Pope Paul had suggested his
dictate be applied with "much mercy, attention to concrete situations."
He acknowledged that sex abuse by priests has damaged lives, but said
that since Pope Benedict XVI the church has done "perhaps more than
anyone" to solve the problem. "The Catholic Church is perhaps the only
public institution to have acted with transparency and responsibility.
No one else has done more. And yet the church is the only one attacked."
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