Pope Francis Explicitly Supports Same-Sex Civil Unions in New Documentary

Robin Zlotnick - Author

Oct. 21 2020, Updated 3:44 p.m. ET

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Source: Getty images

In Francesco, a new documentary, Pope Francis endorsed same-sex civil unions for the first time as pope. The documentary recently premiered at the Rome Film Festival, and this detail has rippled throughout the world; it's a very progressive stance for the pope.

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AP News reports that the moment comes about halfway into the film when Pope Francis discusses the issues he cares about most, "including the environment, poverty, migration, racial and income inequality, and the people most affected by discrimination."

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"Homosexual people have the right to be in a family," he says in the film. "They are children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out or be made miserable because of it. What we have to have is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered. I stood up for that."

This is the first time Pope Francis has endorsed civil unions as the pope, but he had previously voiced his support for same-sex civil unions when he was serving as the archbishop of Buenos Aires. 

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According to the Catholic News Agency, the film includes the story of the pope "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 man said, "He didn't mention what was his opinion on my family. Probably he's following the doctrine on this point." But he said the pope's disposition was one of "welcome and encouragement."

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Rev. James Martin is a Jesuit priest who has put forth a strong effort to build bridges between the church and the LGBTQ+ community. He says this statement from the pope is "a major step forward in the church's support for LGBTQ people." 

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In a statement, Martin said, "The Pope's speaking positively about civil unions also sends a strong message to places where the church has opposed such laws."

Featured in the documentary is Juan Carlos Cruz, a gay man who survived sexual abuse at the hands of clergy members. Cruz says in the film that Pope Francis "assured him that God made" him gay. His story illustrates "both Francis' evolution on understanding sexual abuse as well as to document the pope's views on gay people."

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Although Francis' comments about the same-sex civil unions have been making headlines, Francis spoke on many issues during the film, including Donald Trump's child separation policy. 

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Many commented that Pope Francis' view on same-sex civil unions seems to be "more liberal than Amy Coney Barrett" and the direction that United States Republicans want to send the Supreme Court. 

Filmmaker Evgeny Afineevsky said that in the film, he does not look at Francis as the pope but "as a humble human being, great role model to younger generations, leader for the older generations, a leader to many people not in the sense of the Catholic Church but in the sense of pure leadership, on the ground, on the streets."

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