Same-sex civil unions supported by Pope Francis

same-sex civil unions

Pope Francis has again indicated support for same-sex civil unions.

His most recent comments were made in “Francesco,” a new documentary on his life and ministry.

The film premiered Oct. 21 as part of the Rome Film Festival.

In the film, Francis says that “Homosexuals have a right to be a part of the family. They’re children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out, or be made miserable because of it.”

The pope then suggests that civil union laws may provide a way for countries to protect the legal rights of persons in same-sex relationships.

Although the media reported the comments as “fresh” and Francis departing from previous ‘teachings’, he has previously spoken in favour of civil unions.

Francis first spoke about civil unions in 2013, when Argentina and facing the near-certain passage of the gay marriage bill, and the then Cardinal Bergoglio wagered on a position of greater dialogue with society and suggested civil unions as a compromise to his fellow bishops.

He was outvoted.

Then again in 2014, in an interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, he acknowledged that states passing civil union laws were primarily doing so in order to provide same-sex partners legal rights.

And in 2017, French author, Dominique Wolton asked him about marriage for same-sex couples and Francis replied: “Let’s call this ‘civil unions.’ We do not joke around with the truth”.

However, it is his most recent comment that has captured the world’s attention and is welcomed by many on the progressive wing of the church.

One such is Jesuit Fr James Martin who has advocated for greater LGBTQ inclusion in the Church.

He labels Francis’ comments ‘historic’.

“First, he is saying them as Pope, not Archbishop of Buenos Aires, second, he is clearly supporting, not simply tolerating, civil unions. Third, he is saying it on camera, not privately,” tweeted Martin.

However, Francis is under pressure from church conservatives such as Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island.

“The Pope’s statement clearly contradicts what has been the long-standing teaching of the Church about same-sex unions,” Tobin said in a statement.

“The Church cannot support the acceptance of objectively immoral relationships.”

The reaction within the LGBTQ community is similarly mixed.

“This news should send an undeniable message to Catholic families with LGBTQ people that all family members are deserving of acceptance and support,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, the president and CEO of the LGBTQ media advocacy organisation GLAAD.

“Pope Francis’ public approval is a fundamental step forward at a time when LGBTQ acceptance around the world and across religions is expanding and rightfully becoming the norm.”

And, “It is no overstatement to say that with this statement not only has the pope protected LGBTQ couples and families, but he also will save many LGBTQ lives,” said Francis DeBernardo of New Ways Ministry, which represents LGBTQ Catholics,

Others in the LGBTQ lobby, however, remain critical, saying Francis has taken too long to make the statement and not gone far enough and urge him to go further.

Shortly after becoming pope in 2013, he made big headlines when asked about reports of gays in the clergy, Francis answered, “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has goodwill, who am I to judge?”


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