In an interview published Wednesday in the Italian daily Corriere della Sera, Pope Francis suggested that civil unions for gay couples might be acceptable to the Roman Catholic Church.

“Matrimony is between a man and a woman,” the pope told the paper's editor-in-chief, Ferrucio de Bortoli. But moves to “regulate diverse situations of cohabitation [are] driven by the need to regulate economic aspects among persons, as for instance to assure medical care.”

“It is necessary to look at the diverse cases and evaluate them in their variety,” the pope said in response to being asked to what extent the church could understand laws recognizing civil unions.

Italian lawmakers are currently debating whether to legalize civil partnerships for gay couples.

A proposal to legalize civil partnerships for gay couples is supported by Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.

In 2010, then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio called on Argentina to legalize civil unions instead of allowing gay couples to marry.

Last year, the pope criticized church leaders for focusing on social issues, including the church's opposition to marriage equality.