A congratulatory letter sent from Pope Francis to a same-sex couple regarding the baptism of their children was a standard form letter sent to all who write to the Pope, a Vatican source has confirmed.

The letter was not an endorsement of gay unions, the source told CNA, and the Pope may not have known that the letter was going to a gay couple, since it was addressed to a single individual.

Tony Reis, an LGBT activist, and his partner David Harrad published on Facebook in April that they sent a letter to the Pope, telling him about the baptism of their three adopted children in a church in Curitiba, Brazil.

[Editor’s note: pro-gay New Ways Ministry had published a blog post on August 9 titled “Pope Congratulates, Blesses Gay Couple on the Baptism of Their Adopted Children”. Other news sources published similar stories.]

The couple told AFP that they had received a congratulatory letter in return, signed by the Vatican Secretariat of State, Monsignor Paolo Borgi.

The letter, translated from Portuguese, said that the Holy Father “looks with appreciation” at the letter on the baptism of the children, and “expressed his feelings of esteem…and his wishes for the good spiritual fruits of his ministry as Pastor of the Universal Church.”

“Pope Francis wishes him well, invoking for his family the abundance of divine graces, so that they may live constantly and faithfully the condition of Christians, as good children of God and of the Church, and sends them a propitious Apostolic Blessing, asking them not to stop praying for him,” the letter concludes.

“(T)hat letter is the standard model of courtesy response that the Vatican sends to all the people who write to the Pope, and therefore was not a letter (that was) expressly thinking about them,” the Vatican source told CNA.

In an official statement to CNA, vice director of the Holy See press office Paloma Ovejero confirmed that the perception that this letter was an affirmation of same-sex marriage “is false. The letter was directed only to him (Reis).” The Vatican letter is only addressed to one person with the greeting “Dear Sir.”

“Although it is true that in the body of the response there was a reference to a blessing of the family of the recipient, in Portuguese this expression has a generic and ample meaning, equivalent to ‘all the people close to you,’” Ovejero told CNA.

She added that in the text of the Vatican letter “there is no element whatsoever that makes reference to the concrete content of Mr. Reis’ letter, except for the gratitude of the Pope for the expression of ‘esteem and veneration to the Pastor of the Universal Church.’”

Full story at Catholic News Agency.