ROME (Reuters) — Pope Francis, who since the beginning of his pontificate has taken a more tolerant tone toward homosexuality, appeared to break with the position of the Roman Catholic Church by supporting civil unions for same-sex couples, according to remarks Francis made in a new documentary that debuted in Rome on Wednesday.
“Homosexual people have a right to be in a family. They are children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out or be made miserable over it,” he says in the documentary “Francesco” by Oscar-nominated director Evgeny Afineevsky.
“What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered,” Francis said amid remarks in which he otherwise reiterated his support for gay people as children of God. “I stood up for that.”
The pope appeared to be referring to when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires and opposed legislation to approve same sex marriages but supported some kind of legal protection for the rights of gay couples.
Papal biographer Austen Ivereigh told Reuters that the pope’s comments in the film were some of the clearest language the pontiff has used on the subject since his election in 2013.
The pope, who early in his papacy made the now-famous “Who am I to judge?” remark about homosexuals trying to live a Christian life, spoke in a section of the film about Andrea Rubera, a gay man who with his partner adopted three children.
Rubera says in the film that he went to a morning Mass the pope said in his Vatican residence and gave him a letter explaining his situation.
He told the pope that he and his partner wanted to bring the children up as Catholics in the local parish but did not want to cause any trauma for the children. It was not clear in which country Rubera lives.
Rubera said the pope telephoned him several days later, telling him he thought the letter was “beautiful” and urging the couple to introduce their children to the parish but to be ready for opposition.
“His message and his advice was really useful because we did exactly what he told us. It’s the third year that they (the children) are on a spiritual path in the parish,” Rubera says in the film.
“He didn’t mention what was his opinion about my family so (I think) he is following the doctrine on this point but the attitude towards people has massively changed,” he said.
The Catholic Church teaches that homosexual tendencies are not sinful but homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered” and the church is opposed to gay marriage. It teaches that homosexuals should be treated with dignity.
In 2003, under the pontificate of Pope John Paul II, the church’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, then led by the future Pope Benedict XVI, issued “Considerations regarding proposals to give legal recognition to unions between homosexual persons,” in which it wrote, “The Church teaches that respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behavior or to legal recognition of homosexual unions.”
New York Times