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January 05, 2014 AT 9:23 AM
The Vatican denied Italian media reports that recent comments by Pope Francis signaled his openness to the legal recognition of same-sex unions in Italy. Francis, in a conversation with leaders of religious orders published by a Jesuit journal, said the Catholic Church had to try not to scare away children who live in complex family situations, such as those whose parents were separated and those living with gay couples. Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told Vatican Radio that media interpretations were "paradoxical" and a "manipulation" of the pope's words, particularly as some media quoted him as speaking specifically of homosexual unions, which he did not.