Pope Francis Voices Support For Same-Sex Civil Unions In Historic First

Since ascending to the papacy, Pope Francis has worked hard to present himself as the welcoming and inclusive face of the Roman Catholic Church.

This has led him to speak out in favor of immigrants in the wake of President Donald Trump's relevant policies, but recent statements of his make it clear that this consideration also extends to LGBTQ+ people.

To put the significance of this support into perspective, it's worth noting that as recently as 2003, the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith considered legal recognition of same-sex unions "approval of deviant behavior."

But while Pope Francis' public statements thus far would indicate that he probably feels differently, he has just made it clear that there's no "probably" about it.

On October 21, Pope Francis declared his support for legal protections regarding same-sex relationships for the first time in both his and the Vatican's history.

As BuzzFeed News reported, he said, "What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered. I stood up for that."

These statements were first made public as part of the documentary *Francesco* that premiered at the Rome Film Festival on Wednesday.

According to BuzzFeed News, this film, by Evgeny Afineevsky, is centered around the pope's efforts to help disadvantaged communities.

The documentary will make its American debut at the Savannah Film Festival on October 25.

As Pope Francis sees it, civil unions would both respect people's rights and reduce harm to the LGBTQ+ community.

CNN reported the pope as saying, "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."

These statements come as welcome news to LGBTQ+ advocacy organizations within Catholic communities.

Marianne Duddy-Burke — the executive director of one such group known as DignityUSA — told BuzzFeed News, "If this [is] a public recognition that same-sex couples deserve — and the church will no longer block — legal recognition of committed relationships, clearly that is an international game changer."

Her sentiments were echoed by Francis DeBernardo of New Ways Ministry, who said, "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."

However, both of them wondered whether this would mean that same-sex relationships would now be recognized within the policies of the Roman Catholic Church itself.

As Duddy-Burke said, "I think it’s going to spike a range of emotions from jubilation to skepticism across the queer Catholic community. Is this going to [be] something that is going to be 'clarified' by the Vatican in the days ahead?"

h/t: BuzzFeed News

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