Pope Francis has said that same-sex couples should be protected by civil union laws in some of the clearest languages he has used on the rights of gay people since his election seven years ago. He made his comments in a new documentary “Francesco” by Oscar-nominated director Evgeny Afineevsky that was released on Wednesday.
“Homosexual people have a right to be in a family. They are children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out or be made miserable over it,” he said.
“What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered. I stood up for that,” he said.
The pope appeared to be referring to when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires and opposed legislation to approve same-sex marriages but supported some kind of legal protection for the rights of gay couples.
The Catholic Church teaches that homosexual tendencies are not sinful but homosexual acts are. It teaches that homosexuals should be treated with dignity but is opposed to gay marriage.
Papal biographer Austen Ivereigh said the pope’s comments in the film were some of the clearest language the pontiff has used on the subject since his election in 2013.
“Pope Francis’ clear and public support for same-sex civil unions marks a new stage in the church’s relationship with LGBTQ people,” said Father James Martin, a Jesuit priest and author of “Building a Bridge,” a book about Catholic ministry to homosexuals.
“It shows his overall pastoral approach to LGBTQ people, including those who are Catholic, and sends a clear message to those bishops and Church leaders who have opposed such laws,” Martin argued.
A spokesman for United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who is a devout Catholic, described the pope’s remarks as “a very positive move.”
“The Secretary-General has spoken out very forcefully against homophobia in favor of LGBTQ rights, that people should never be persecuted or discriminated against just for who they love,” U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.
The pope, who early in his papacy made the now-famous “Who am I to judge?” remark about homosexuals trying to live a Christian life, spoke in a section of the film about Andrea Rubera, a gay man who with his partner adopted three children.