by Mike Andrew -
SGN Staff Writer
Pope Francis has announced public support for same-sex civil unions.
"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," Pope Francis said.
"What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered," he added. "I stood up for that."
The Pope's statement came in a documentary released October 21, titled Francesco, the Pope's name in Italian. The documentary is premiering at the Rome Film Festival and will make its US premiere on October 25.
According the Catholic News Agency (CNA), the film chronicles the approach of Pope Francis to pressing social issues, and to pastoral ministry among those who live, in the words of the pontiff, "on the existential peripheries."
Featuring interviews with Vatican figures, including Cardinal Luis Tagle and other collaborators of the pope, Francesco looks at the pope's advocacy for migrants and refugees and the poor, his work on the issue of clerical sexual abuse, the role of women in society, and the disposition of Catholics and others toward those who identify as LGBT.
It includes a story of the Pope encouraging two Italian men in a same-sex relationship to raise their children in their parish church, which, one of the men said, was greatly beneficial to his children.
"He didn't mention what was his opinion on my family. Probably he's following the doctrine on this point," the man says in the film.
The pope's remarks on civil unions come amid that part of the documentary. Filmmaker Evgeny Afineevsky told the CNA that the Pope stated his support for civil unions during an interview they had.
The CNA notes with more than a little understatement that the Pope's remarks are "likely to spark controversy among Catholics." In the context of a film interview, the Pope's statement can only be read as his personal opinion, and not as a doctrinal pronouncement binding on Roman Catholics.
Francis's approach stands in stark contrast to his predecessor, Benedict XVI. In 2003, Benedict, then Cardinal Ratzinger and head of the Vatican's doctrinal agency, explicitly ruled out Catholic support for same-sex civil unions.