In a major departure from Vatican doctrine, Pope Francis called for the passage of civil union laws for same sex couples.
“Homosexuals have a right to be part of the family,” the Pontiff said in “Francesco,” a documentary about his life that aired in Rome, according to the Catholic News Agency. “They’re children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out, or be made miserable because of it.”
“What we have to create is a civil union law,” he added. “That way, they are legally covered. I stood up for that.”
During his tenure as archbishop of Buenos Aires, Francis endorsed civil unions for gay couples as an alternative to same-sex marriages. However, he had never addressed the issue directly as pope. Papal biographer Austen Ivereigh told Reuters that his comments in the film were some of the clearest language the pope has used on the subject since his election in 2013.
The documentary by Oscar-nominated Evgeny Afineevsky, a Russia-born Jew, casts Pope Francis as a healer and communicator, using his position and faith to address many of the world's most pressing problems. Aside from civil unions and homosexuality, the documentary tackles other issues such as the growing rich-poor gap, racism, climate change, sexual abuse, migration, human trafficking, political polarization and relations between Christians, Muslims and Jews. The documentary also addresses the infamous church sexual abuse scandal, which Pope Francis underestimated and later apologized for.
During the civil union discussion, the Pope talks about a gay man named Andrea Rubera, who adopted three children with his partner. Rubera wanted to raise the children Catholic but was unable to have his family recognized in the church due to the Catholic church's firm anti-gay stance. The pontiff telephoned him several days later, telling him he was moved by the letter and urging the couple to introduce their children to the parish but to be ready for opposition, Rubera said, adding that they took the advice and were happy that they did.
It also features Juan Carlos Cruz, a Chilean survivor of clergy sexual abuse. Cruz said that during their first meetings in 2018, Francis assured him that God made him gay.