Continuing his streak of allyship with the LGBTQ+ community, Pope Francis asserted his support for same-sex civil unions in the documentary 'Francesco.'
In a documentary that premiered on Wednesday, Pope Francis shared his support for same-sex civil unions, The New York Times reports. This is a significant move for the Pope as it completely breaks away from the views held by his predecessors, who have typically been homophobic and anti-LGBTQ. His recent remarks have the ability to transform churches across the globe because, as the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, his views are held in high regard. Some churches may feel threatened as his statements directly contradict what many think of as a "traditional" union or marriage.
"What we have to create is a civil union law," Pope Francis states in the documentary. "That way they are legally covered. I stood up for that." He also reiterated his opinion that members of the LGBTQ+ community are "children of God," just like anyone else. Gay Catholics and allies, of course, welcomed the remarks and praised the Pope for his progressive view of what marriages can look like. However, the opposition was just as strong. More conservative Catholic leaders expressed their criticism of his views.
For instance, Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island, claimed that Francis should clarify his remarks. He said, "The Pope’s statement clearly contradicts what has been the longstanding teaching of the church about same-sex unions." While there has been some confusion about when the Pope passed the remarks and to whom, it is clear that his intentions were realized. As Jason Horowitz writing for The New York Times notes, "The comments shown in the film are likely to generate exactly the sort of discussion the Pope has repeatedly sought to foster on issues once considered forbidden in the church’s culture wars." Though this may be true, there is little faith that Francis's statements would change policy on same-sex civil unions.
Rev. Antonio Spadaro, a Jesuit priest and close ally of Francis, pointed out that his remarks would "in no way [affect] doctrine." While the Pope may not be a fierce ally of the LGBTQ+ community, he has always provided general support. "Homosexuals have a right to be a part of the family," he states in the documentary. "They’re children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out, or be made miserable because of it." Will the Catholic church be influenced by Francis's remarks? It is yet to be seen. Nonetheless, Pope Francis has helped move the church in the right direction—towards inclusion. The documentary, titled Francesco, debuted at the Rome Film Festival on Wednesday.