Pope Francis’ ‘gay friend’ claims he backed same-sex unions long before he became the Pope

Patrick Kelleher
·3-min read

Pope Francis has been supportive of same-sex civil unions since at least 2008, according to a gay man who claims to be a personal friend to the pontiff.

There was surprise and excitement among LGBT+ Catholics when a new documentary about Pope Francis revealed his support for same-sex civil unions.

While the Pope described same-sex marriage as a “contradiction” in the same interview, his comments were widely praised as a sign of progress in the Catholic church, which has been staunchly opposed to any progress in LGBT+ rights throughout its history.

Now, a gay man who claimed to be a friend of Pope Francis has said that the pontiff’s commitment to same-sex civil unions is not new.

Pope Francis’ ‘gay friend’ spoke with him about equal marriage a decade ago.

Yayo Grassi told the Washington Blade that the Pope has been supportive of civil union law for more than a decade.

Grassi, who lives in Washington DC, said he was taught by the Pope at a Roman Catholic school in the Argentinian city of Santa Fe in the mid 1960s.

The pair have remained friends since, he said, adding that he and his partner met with the church leader in 2015. Grassi said he also met with Francis in Buenos Aires in 2008, just two years before Argentina passed same-sex marriage.

The equal marriage law was being debated at the time, and Grassi said he asked Pope Francis for his thoughts on it.

“He said it is not a religious law that is being debated, it is a civil law so therefore the church has nothing to do with it,” Grassi said.

“That was when he told me: ‘You’re coming here and I know you. We have been friends for so long. Who am I to judge you? Why would I judge you?'”

Grassi said he was “not surprised at all” to hear that Pope Francis was supportive of same-sex civil unions, adding: “To me it was like a natural consequence of the things that he’s done.”

He said the Pope’s support for civil unions started with “a very gentle wave” in 2013.

“Now we see that it really was just a gentle wave, that the tsunamis are coming little by little, that every wave that he sends out makes this movement much, much greater and difficult to walk back.”

The Pope has a contradictory record on LGBT+ rights.

Pope Francis made global headlines when the new documentary, titled Francesco, debuted at the Rome Film Festival on October 21.

It later emerged that his comments on civil unions weren’t new, but were actually taken from a 2019 interview the head of the Catholic church did with Mexican television station Televisa.

Since he became leader of the church in 2013, when Pope Benedict XVI stepped down, Francis has made numerous contradictory comments about the LGBT+ community, leaving many queer people confused as to just how far his support extends.

In 2013, he made global headlines when he called on the Catholic church to “show mercy, not condemnation” to gay people – representing a stark shift in tone from his predecessors.

But in 2019, he told a Spanish newspaper that parents who see signs of homosexuality in their children should “consult a professional” – a comment that was considered by many to endorse conversion therapy.

Meanwhile, he has been staunch in his opposition to trans identities, comparing them to nuclear war and genetic manipulation in 2015.

In 2019, the Vatican released a document claiming that “gender ideology” is a “move away from nature”.