The Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council on Thursday said there is no change in the Church’s stance on same-sex marriage, a day after a documentary showed Pope Francis saying that same-sex couples should be protected by civil union laws, The Indian Express reported.

The KCBC, an organisation of Catholic bishops in Kerala belonging to rites of Syro-Malabar, Latin and Syro-Malankara Churches, called reports of Francis justifying same-sex marriages as “baseless and misleading”.

The documentary titled Francesco by Oscar-nominated director Evgeny Afineevsky was premiered in Rome on Wednesday. Francis, without mentioning the prospect of same-sex Catholic marriages, suggested in the film that civil partnerships would be the best way to achieve this. He has previously endorsed civil unions when he was serving as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, but opposed same-sex marriages.

“Homosexual people have a right to be in a family. They are children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out or be made miserable over it. What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered. I stood up for that.” 

— Pope Francis

On Thursday, KCBC spokesperson Bishop Jacob Palakkappalli said the Catholic Church has not changed its stand on family life and homosexuality.

“The Church does not make exhortations about marriage and family life through documentaries. The Pope had taught in the past also that those in the LGBT category are children of God and they deserve special care and love. The Church had adopted a similar stand in 1975, when the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued the document Persona humana (Human Person) dealing with sexual ethics...The Church is of the stand that same-sex inclinations should be differentiated from same-sex acts.”

— Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council

The Catholic Church does not see the living together of same-sex lovers as marriage, which is recognised by some countries as a civil union, Pamplany said, according to The New Indian Express.

“Pastoral services for people living in same-sex relationships are a subject of serious discussion by the Church. The Pope’s official stand is as per the ‘Amoris Laetitia’ Doctrine released by the Catholic Church after the Synod on family. There has been no change in the Pope’s stand on this issue.”

— Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council

On Wednesday, Papal biographer Austen Ivereigh had told Reuters that the pope’s comment was the “clearest language” he had used about homosexuality, since his appointment in 2013. The pope’s comment also marked a departure from his views in 2013, when he had said in a book that equating homosexual relationships to heterosexual marriages would be “an anthropological regression”. He has made several different comments about homosexuality over the years.

In 2013, the pope had also famously remarked: “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?”

However, Pope Francis also said that “there could be affected children” if same-sex couples were allowed to adopt. He added that every child needed a male father and a female mother to develop an identity. In 2018, the pope had said that homosexuality within the clergy was a “serious matter” and that he was worried about it.