VATICAN CITY, Italy — In what is being considered a first, Pope Francis, the head of the Catholic Church, recently announced that he has called for the inclusion of civil union law for same-sex couples.
This is a major shift from the Vatican’s former stance, the National Catholic Register reported. The Pope’s statement came from dialogue from a documentary, “Francesco,” that premiered on Oct. 21 as part of the Rome Film Festival, the Register added.
“What we have to create is a civil union law,” the Pope said of same-sex couples. “That way they are legally covered. I stood up for that.”
Among the images and scripting in the film by filmmaker Evgeny Afineevsky are interviews with Vatican figures who look at Pope Francis’ advocacy efforts and the “disposition of Catholics and others toward those who identify as LGBT.” The “pastoral outreach” portrayed the Pope as someone who encouraged a same-sex Italian couple to raise their children in their parish church. One of the parents remarked that was beneficial for the children.
According to America Magazine, Fordham University theologian Rev. Bryan Massingale “described the pope’s comments as ‘huge for a global church where homosexuality is still outlawed in over 70 countries and punishable by death in five.’”
The Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David said, “Pope Francis took a significant step for inclusion and acceptance in the Catholic Church by embracing unions for same-sex couples and affirming that LGBTQ Catholics are a part of their religious family. By shifting Catholic theology in a more inclusive direction and making clear that LGBTQ people have a right to their own families, Pope Francis is letting LGBTQ Catholics know that being a person of faith and being LGBTQ are not mutually exclusive. While we at the Human Rights Campaign acknowledge this moment, we continue to push the Catholic Church, and all religious leaders, to fully embrace LGBTQ people and endorse marriage equality for same-sex couples, our right to have families, and to be full members of our faith communities.
“Many members of the LGBTQ community have had difficulty engaging with places of worship because they have not been accepting of LGBTQ people. We are hopeful that this is another in a line of many actions toward full inclusion and acceptance for LGBTQ people in Catholicism, and in all faiths,” David added.
In addition to his stance on same-sex marriage, he has also named Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Washington, D.C. as a cardinal. Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, shared that Gregory has had a “strong record of positive statements on LGBTQ issues. In addition to Gregory, Pope Francis also named Archbishop Mario Grech from Malta as a cardinal. He also had a good LGBTQ record, DeBernardo added.