Pope Francis on Wednesday voiced support for same-sex couples, calling them “children of God” and saying that they should be allowed to have legally recognized civil unions.
The pope, whose opposition to gay marriage remains unchanged, said in a documentary premiered at the Rome Film Festival: “These are children of God; they have the right to a family.”
“What we have to create is a law of civil union. They have the right to be legally protected — I have defended that,” he said in filmmaker Evgeny Afineevsky’s Francesco.
While Francis has previously spoken about same-sex unions, he has always voiced opposition to gay marriage, saying that marriage should only be between a man and woman.
“‘Marriage’ is a historic word,” he told French sociologist Dominique Wolton in a 2017 book of interviews. “Always among human beings, and not only in the Church, it has been between a man and a woman. You can’t just change that like that.”
“Since the beginning of the pontificate the pope has spoken of respect for homosexuals and has been against their discrimination,” Vatican expert Vania de Luca told RaiNews. “The novelty today is that he defends as pope a law for civil unions.”
After becoming pope in 2013, Francis took a welcoming tone toward LGBTQ people, launching his phrase: “Who am I to judge?” and welcoming gay couples to the Vatican on several occasions.
The two-hour documentary screened on Wednesday traces the seven years of his pontificate and his travels.
Chilean Juan Carlos Cruz, an activist against sexual abuse within the Church, accompanied the director to the film screening on Wednesday.
“When I met Pope Francis, he told me he was very sorry about what happened. ‘Juan, it is God who made you gay and he loves you anyway. God loves you and the Pope loves you too,’” Cruz said in the film.
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