Pope Francis is calling for more legal rights for LGBTQ+ members of the Catholic church.
In the new documentary “Francesco,” set to premiere in Rome later this week, Francis tells filmmaker Evgeny Afineevsky in an interview that there should be civil union laws created for same-sex couples so that they may be “legally covered.” “Homosexuals have a right to be a part of the family,” said Francis. “They’re children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out, or be made miserable because of it.”
Francis, who has been Pope since 2013, has been known for his more understanding and tolerable views that stray from traditional beliefs and teachings of the Catholic church. He has stressed that LGBTQ+ members are welcomed into the church and that there needs to be less hatred surrounding the matter, though he has yet to officially change church doctrine.
During his time as Archbishop in Buenos Aires, Francis had also suggested civil unions as a compromise to legalizing gay marriage. Though he has expressed acceptance of these laws in the past, this documentary interview is the first time Pope Francis has publicly and officially stated that he is in favor of civil union laws.
“I think it’s a big step forward,” Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit who has championed acceptance for LGBTQ+ members in the church, told The Washington Post. “In the past, even civil unions were frowned upon in many quarters of the church. He is putting his weight behind legal recognition of same-sex civil unions.”
In one part of the documentary, Francis mentions a letter he received from a gay man explaining that he and his partner wanted to raise their three children Catholic but were afraid of how the local parish would receive them. Touched by the letter, the Pope called the man and encouraged him and his family to join the parish.
The film also touches on other controversial topics, such as racism, climate change, political polarization, human trafficking, and the Catholic church’s sexual abuse scandal, for which Pope Francis has publicly addressed and apologized for his mishandling of the situation.
Civil union laws offer couples a lot of the same rights as to marriage, although the major difference between the two is that in the United States, civil union laws mostly only provide state-level protections.
Executive director of New Ways Ministry, an LGBTQ+ Catholic ministry, Francis DeBernardo told USAToday that the pope’s statement is the most promising to date from a member of the clergy. "In the church, change happens step by step,” said DeBernardo. “And as Catholics around the world become more used to supporting lesbian and gay couples, they and their leaders will soon see that it makes no sense not to recognize and bless these relationships in church."
The film is coming to the U.S. sometime in 2020, so sit tight knowing it'll be available for your viewing pleasure soon enough. While there is still a lot of progress to be made this is a win for all LGBTQ+ community members. Love always wins!