For the first time in his career as pontiff, Pope Francis has expressly endorsed civil unions for homosexual couples.
“Homosexual people have the right to be in a family. They are children of God,” Francis said in an interview for the biopic documentary, “Francesco,” which premiered earlier this week at the Rome Film Festival.
“What we have to have is a civil union law; that way they are legally covered,” the pontiff added.
While still an archbishop in his home country of Argentina, Francis endorsed civil unions over same-sex marriage, according to the Associated Press.
Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest famous for LGBT outreach, lauded Francis’ statement as “a major step forward in the church’s support for LGBT people.”
“The Pope’s speaking positively about civil unions also sends a strong message to places where the church has opposed such laws,” Martin said in a statement according to AP.
In addition to his endorsement of civil unions, the pope is quoted in the film as telling a homosexual man that he was created gay by God.
One of the main characters in the documentary is Juan Carlos Cruz, the Chilean survivor of clergy sexual abuse whom Francis initially discredited during a 2018 visit to Chile.
Cruz, who is gay, said that during his first meetings with the pope in May 2018, Francis assured him that God made Cruz gay. Cruz tells his own story in snippets throughout the film, chronicling both Francis’ evolution on understanding sexual abuse as well as to document the pope’s views on gay people.
According to WND, this is hardly a monumental shift in Francis’ ideology.
“I have never been a right-winger,” Francis explained in a 2013 interview for several global Jesuit publications, adding that “the church sometimes has locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules.”
Francis went on, explaining that if asked whether he “approves” of homosexuality, he simply responds, “Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?”
Francis also told reporters back in 2013 that if “someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”
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