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"I stood up for that": Pope Francis voices support for same-sex civil unions

Pope Francis voiced his support for same-sex civil unions for the first time as pope in the documentary “Francesco,” which premiered Wednesday at the Rome Film Festival, per the Catholic News Agency.

Why it matters: The pope’s remarks represent a break from the position of the Roman Catholic Church, which has long taught that homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered" and contrary to natural law.

  • In 2003, under the direction of Pope John Paul II, the Vatican’s Congregation taught that “respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behaviour or to legal recognition of homosexual unions. The common good requires that laws recognize, promote and protect marriage as the basis of the family, the primary unit of society.”

What he's saying: "What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered," Pope Francis says in the Evgeny Afineevsky-directed film, which is set to premiere in North America on Sunday, per CNA.

  • "I stood up for that," Pope Francis adds, appearing to refer to his reported endorsement of same-sex civil unions while archbishop of Buenos Aires.
  • “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,” he says.
  • According to AP, Juan Carlos Cruz, the Chilean survivor of clergy sexual abuse and one of the film's main characters, said the pope assured him in May 2018 that God made Cruz gay.
  • Pope Francis also addresses the environment, poverty, migration, inequality, and discrimination in the film.

Worth noting: It's unclear when the interview featured in the documentary took place.

  • The Vatican did not immediately comment on Pope Francis' remarks. A spokesman told the New York Times that he would not comment until he had seen the film and the pope’s remarks.

Flashback: Pope Francis sparked controversy among Catholics in 2013 for saying, "If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”

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