After decades of attempts by the Catholic Church to smash marriage equality, Pope Francis has called for civil unions for same-sex couples.
“We have to create a civil union law. In this way, they are legally protected, ”Pope Francis said in a new documentary when speaking about helping LGBTQ people, according to the Catholic news agency. “I advocated it.”
“Homosexuals have the right to be part of the family,” said the Pope. “They are children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out or made unhappy because of this.”
Evgeny Afineevsky’s new documentary, Francesco, premiered Wednesday at the Rome Film Festival and focuses on how the Pope cares for and helps disadvantaged communities.
His comments in the film are the first time Francis has openly called for the protection of same-sex relationships as the Pope.
In 2003, the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith – then under the leadership of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who later became Pope Benedict XVI. Was – that “the legal recognition of homosexual unions or their equality with marriage would not only mean consenting to deviant behavior, with the result that it becomes a model in today’s society, but also basic values that form part of the common heritage of the Would belong to humanity, would disguise. “
There have been reports in the past that Francis privately supported civil unions in 2010 when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires and the country passed laws on equality between women and men, but these have been denied.
The Pope never endorsed marriage for same-sex couples or the official recognition of same-sex relationships by the Church.
After Wednesday’s news, LGBTQ Catholic activists spoke excitedly but hesitantly about the news.
“If this is public recognition that same-sex couples deserve – and the church will no longer block it – then this is clearly an international trailblazer,” said Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of DignityUSA, a Catholic LGBTQ organization, told BuzzFeed News .
But while Duddy-Burke described the Pope’s comments as “very significant”, she wanted further clarification on what the Pope meant exactly.
“I think it will provoke a range of emotions from cheer to skepticism in the queer Catholic community,” she said. “Will this lead to something that the Vatican will ‘sort out’ in the coming days?”
The Vatican did not respond to a request for comment.
Francis DeBernardo, executive director of LGBTQ Catholic advocacy group New Ways Ministry, said he welcomed the Pope’s comments “gratefully” but also hoped the Pope would recognize these relationships within the Church.
“It is a historic moment when the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, who has long been viewed as a persecutor of LGBTQ people, moves in such a supportive direction for lesbian and gay couples and their families,” DeBernardo said.
“It is no exaggeration to say that with this statement the Pope not only protected LGBTQ couples and families, but will also save many LGBTQ lives,” said De Bernardo.
Francesco premieres at the Savannah Film Festival on Sunday.