Pope Francis Endorses Same-Sex Civil Unions for First Time

Pope Francis voiced his support for same-sex couples to be eligible for civil unions in a new documentary that aired in Rome, Italy, this week. This is the pope's latest major departure from the Vatican's doctrine but is in line with his support for the LGBTQ+ community up to this point. According to the Catholic News Agency, he said: "Homosexuals have a right to be part of the family."

"They're children of God and have a right to a family," he went on. "Nobody should be thrown out or be made miserable because of it. What we have to create is a civil union law. That way, they are legally covered. I stood up for that."

This new quote comes from Francesco, a documentary about Pope Francis' life that aired for the first time on Wednesday in Rome. Evgeny Afineevsky directed it, a Russian-born Jewish man who now lives in the U.S. Afineevsky was nominated for an Oscar in 2016 for his documentary Winter on Fire.

His new movie, Francesco, depicts Pope Francis as a "great connector," according to a report by NBC News. It shows how he has long sought solutions to systemic problems through his faith, hoping to make the church more accessible to everyone.

Pope Francis publicly endorsed civil unions for gay couples back when he served as archbishop of Buenos Aires. This is the first time he has addressed the issue since becoming the Pope. Some critics argued that this still does not go far enough since it differentiates between marriages for heterosexual couples and civil unions for homosexual couples.

"The key is for the church to welcome, not exclude, and show mercy, not condemnation," he said in 2013, according to a report by The Guardian. "If a person is gay and seeks God and has goodwill, who am I to judge? The problem is not having this orientation. We must be brothers."

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In the documentary, this is just one of many issues on the pope's radar. Others reportedly include the growing wealth gap, climate change, migration issues, human trafficking, political polarization and racism. The pope is also concerned about sexual abuse within and outside the church and the relations between Christian groups, Muslim groups, and Jewish groups.

The documentary is not entirely favorable, however. It highlights some of the pope's misjudgments about the severity of the sexual abuse crisis within the Catholic church. However, this serves to portray him with humility since he later apologized publicly for this mistake. So far, there is no word on if or when Francesco will be available to view in the U.S.