Pope Francis declared support for same-sex civil unions in a documentary released earlier today. He made the remarks during the discussion of various social issues in the film Francesco, which premiered at the Rome Film Festival.
“Homosexual people have a right to be in a family. They’re children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out or be made miserable over it.
“What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered.”
The Pope previously addressed the issue of civil unions during his time as Archbishop of Buenos Aires. Although Francis then indicated he did not oppose civil unions, these remarks constitute his first direct endorsement. He advocated for same-sex civil unions then as an alternative to same-sex marriage.
The endorsement by Francis marks substantial progress from the ideas of former Pope Benedict. Benedict, in fact, continues to blame the ‘gay agenda’ for the sexual abuse scandals of the Catholic Church.
Resistance to Pope’s stance in Francesco
Of course, the Pope’s remarks met immediate resistance from conservative elements within the Catholic Church.
In the United States, Bishop Thomas Tobin said the comments contradict church teachings.
“The Church cannot support the acceptance of objectively immoral relationships… The legalisation of their civil unions, which seek to simulate holy matrimony, is not admissible.”
The public policy director for the Archdiocese of New York described comments as a serious mistake.
“In this case, I think we have to recognize that the Holy Father has plainly erred,” wrote Ed Mechmann. “Catholics cannot promote the legalization of same-sex unions. But we also have to be clear that he isn’t changing the teaching of the Church on homosexuality or same-sex unions in any way.”
However, Jesuit Father James Martin, who advocates for the church to welcome LGBTQ people, said bishops in countries like the US and Poland, who oppose civil unions must now rethink their positions.
“He’s creating a new space for LGBT people. He’s saying it on the record and he’s being very clear.”
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