Pope Francis expressed his support for laws permitting civil unions between same-sex couples, a major departure from the Catholic Church’s stance on the issue. Francis’ endorsement came as part of a documentary film called Francesco about Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s life and approach to addressing challenging social issues before and after he became pope. In the film, which premiered at the Rome Film Festival Wednesday, Francis spoke about about providing support to those within the church who identify as LGBTQ. “Homosexuals have a right to be a part of the family. They’re children of God and have a right to a family,” Pope Francis said during a series of sit-down interviews with filmmaker Evgeny Afineevsky. “Nobody should be thrown out or be made miserable because of it.”
“After those remarks, and in comments likely to spark controversy among Catholics, Pope Francis weighed in directly on the issue of civil unions for same-sex couples,” the Catholic News Agency reported. “What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered,” the pope said. “I stood up for that.” Pope Francis has in the past signaled a more open and inclusive approach to LGBTQ parishioners and has made remarks seen as supportive of the idea of civil unions for same-sex couples.
“Featuring interviews with Vatican figures including Cardinal Luis Tagle and other collaborators of the pope, Francesco looks at the pope’s advocacy for migrants and refugees, the poor, his work on the issue of clerical sexual abuse, the role of women in society, and the disposition of Catholics and others toward those who identify as LGBT,” according to CNA. “The film addresses the pastoral outreach of Pope Francis to those who identify as LGBT, including a story of the pontiff encouraging two Italian men in a same-sex relationship to raise their children in their parish church, which, one of the men said, was greatly beneficial to his children.”
The film makes its American debut this weekend at the Savannah Film Festival.