The pope’s comments on Wednesday came as abortion has once again moved front and center in the politics of both the United States and Mexico.
This month, the nation’s most restrictive abortion law went into effect in Texas, and the Biden administration has gone to court to try to block it. And the Supreme Court is scheduled to take up a Mississippi abortion law in a case that anti-abortion campaigners hope will overturn the abortion rights precedents set by Roe v. Wade in 1973 and subsequent rulings.
Mexico’s Supreme Court last week handed down a ruling that decriminalized abortion in the country.
Francis was not asked about, and did not address, the U.S. or Mexican legal actions.
He spoke candidly about other issues, though, including the rise of anti-Semitism — it “is making a resurgence, it is fashionable, it is an ugly, ugly thing” — and his brief encounter on Sunday with Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary, noting that the Hungarian leader’s anti-immigrant policies had not come up in their interaction.
Asked about the European Parliament’s resolution this month that calls on member states to recognize same-sex marriages contracted in the European countries where such unions are possible, Francis reiterated that marriage was a sacrament and that there were civil laws to “help the situation of many people who have different sexual orientation.”
The pope, who has taken a notably tolerant stand on gay people compared with his predecessors, spoke of civil unions as a way to meet people’s needs. But he said that “marriage is marriage” between “a man and a woman.” People of different sexual orientations can participate in church life, he said, “but please, don’t make the church deny its truth.”
Francis also reiterated his belief that coronavirus vaccinations were critical after being asked about Christians in Slovakia being divided over inoculation. He made an apparent reference to an American cardinal, Raymond Burke, who spread vaccine misinformation and then was treated for Covid-19 at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.