Francis, before he became the Pope, had endorsed same-sex civil unions. The latest comments have been taken positively by liberals.
In an unprecedented move, Pope Francis made a positive statement on a much-debated topic: the marriage of same-sex couples. For the first time, he declared support for civil unions for same-sex couples, CNN reported the Catholic News Agency as saying. The Pope made the historic remarks in the new documentary, Francesco, directed by Russian filmmaker Evgeny Afineevsky.
"Homosexual people have a right to be in a family. They're children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out or be made miserable over it," the Pope said in the film, the Catholic News Agency reported. "What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered," the Pope said.
The Pope had made the comments previously during a 2019 interview with a Mexican broadcaster Televisa but it was never broadcast, according to The Washington Post. A Vatican official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that the previous interview was edited by the Vatican. The Vatican "frequently edits the pope in official transcripts and videos, especially when he speaks on sensitive issues," according to CNN.
The head of the Roman Catholic Church's comments disgruntled the conservatives and were applauded by liberals. "The Episcopal conferences have been stunned," said Hugo Valdemar, a former spokesman for the Mexico City archdiocese who is close to one of Mexico’s most conservative church leaders. "I believe there is going to be an ominous silence from some and applause from the most liberal," he added.
Francis has previously said that he is not against civil unions. However, this was the first time since he became Pope that he openly supported same-sex marriage, which is a step closer to accepting the LGBTQIA+ community. Previously, as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, he had supported same-sex civil unions when Argentina was discussing whether to legalize same-sex marriage. Argentina became the first Latin American country to legalize same-sex marriage in 2010.
So far, six Latin American countries have legalized same-sex marriage. The Pope's comments had repercussions across the world. For instance, in the Philippines, people saw the possibility of political change, and in Zimbabwe, activists for equal rights also applauded the comment, according to the Associated Press.
In Mexico, Saltillo Bishop Raúl Vera welcomed the Pope's comments as a breath of fresh air. "It makes me very happy that a new door is opening in the church for people who still don’t have a place in it because God is going to ask about them," said the 75-year-old Vera. "It is very important that we initiate a new stage in the relationship of the Catholic Church with the LGBT family in the world," he added.
With more and more countries across the world accepting same-sex marriage, it pushes the cause for equal rights for people from sexual minorities towards having a voice.