Pope Francis voiced support for same-sex civil unions, noting they provide necessary legal protections, in a documentary that premiered Wednesday at the International Rome Film Festival. And with the pope's endorsement of same-sex civil unions, he signaled his growing support for LGBTQ+ families.
"Homosexuals have a right to be a part of the family," the Catholic News Agency reported Francis said in a segment of the documentary Francesco in which he reflected on efforts to provide spiritual support for members of the LGBTQ+ community. "They're children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out, or be made miserable because of it."
Pope Francis then went on to explicitly express his support for same-sex civil unions. "What we have to create is a civil union law," the Catholic New Agency quoted the pope as having said. "That way they are legally covered. I stood up for that."
News of the pope's support for extending legal protections to the relationships of same-sex couples comes roughly a month after the pope was reported to have said God loved LGBTQ+ children as they are.
"God loves your children as they are," America Magazine reported Pope Francis told dozens of Italian parents with LGBTQ+ children who belong to the group Tenda di Gionata, or Jonathan's Tent. "The church does not exclude them because she loves them deeply. The church loves your children as they are because they are children of God."
This wasn't the first time Pope Francis had expressed a belief that God loved those who identified as LGBTQ+. In 2018, a clerical sexual abuse survivor named Juan Carlos Cruz said the pope had told him privately that God had made him gay and loved him as he was. "He told me, 'Juan Carlos, that you are gay does not matter. God made you like this and loves you like this and I don't care. The pope loves you like this. You have to be happy with who you are,'" The Guardian reported Cruz told the Spanish newspaper El País.
According to The New York Times, Francis' remarks about same-sex civil unions came during a conversation the pope had with Evgeny Afineevsky, the Oscar-award winning director behind Francesco, during filming. They represent the first time the Francis has explicitly stated his support for civil unions as pope.
Francesco reportedly centers around how Pope Francis has approached a number of social issues and sought to administer spiritual guidance to those the Catholic News Agency reported the pope described as being "on the existential peripheries." According to The Hollywood Reporter, the documentary is slated to premiere in North America on Sunday at the Savannah Film Festival.