In 2015, the Vatican clarified a similar incident, when Fr. Ciro Benedittini, the deputy director of the Vatican Press Office, confirmed that a standard form letter sent to a lesbian couple who had written the Pope was not an endorsement of same-sex marriage.
On numerous occasions throughout his papacy, Pope Francis has reaffirmed Church teaching on marriage, voicing concern about what he sees as attacks on marriage and the family.
"(T)he family – as God wants it, composed of a man and a woman for the good of the spouses and also the generation and education of children – is deformed by powerful contrary projects supported by ideological colonization," the Pope told a group in Rome in September 2015.
That same year, he voiced support for "efforts in defense of the family" in a greeting to pilgrims from Slovakia, on the day before a country-wide vote on whether to legalize same-sex unions.
Speaking during a trip to the Philippines, Pope Francis warned bluntly, "The family is also threatened by growing efforts on the part of some to redefine the very institution of marriage."
And in an October 2014 audience, he warned that "the family is being bastardized," cautioning against a common view in society that "you can call everything family, right?"
"What is being proposed is not marriage, it's an association. But it's not marriage! It's necessary to say these things very clearly and we have to say it!" he stressed, lamenting that there are so many "new forms" of unions which are "totally destructive and limiting the greatness of the love of marriage."