21 October 2020, The Tablet

Pope Francis backs civil unions for gay couples

Pope Francis backs civil unions for gay couples

A poster for the new film, 'Francesco', by documentary filmmaker Evgeny Afineevsky.
CNS photo/Afineevsky-Tolmar Production

Pope Francis has come out in support of civil partnerships for LGBT Catholics in a new award-winning documentary.

The Pope, interviewed in the film by its director Evgeny Afineevsky, said LGBT people should be made welcome in the Catholic Church.

“Homosexual people have the right to be in a family. They are children of God. You can’t kick someone out of a family, nor make their life miserable for this. What we have to have is a civil union law; that way they are legally covered.”

Pope Francis backed civil partnerships while Archbishop of Buenos Aires but this is the first time he has publicly supported such unions as Pope.

In the film, he also urges two gay parents to raise their children in their parish church.

Only last month, Pope Francis told parents of gay children that these children are “children of God”.

The Pope also speaks out in criticism of US President Donald Trump's policies at the Mexican border, in particular describing separating children from parents as “cruelty of the highest form”. And he discusses other issues close to his heart, such as poverty, the environment and migration. He addresses the war in Syria and Ukraine and the persecution of Rohingya Muslims.

Director Evgeny Afineevsky Afineevsky says his new film, Francesco, is a story about humanity and its struggles today and presents Pope Francis as "an amazing, humble human being" who is trying to teach people how to build a better world. CNS photo/Vatican Media via Evgeny Afineevsky

The documentary includes comments from Juan Carlos Cruz, a sex abuse survivor from Chile, who was given an apology by Pope Francis in Rome after the Pope had attempted to discredit his claims and those of other survivors, that a Chilean bishop had known about the abusive behaviour of a prominent priest and did nothing. 

Tomorrow, the documentary will be awarded the 18th Kinéo “Movie for Humanity Award”. Rosetta Sannelli, who created the award, told Vatican News: “Every one of Pope Francis' journeys to various parts of the world is documented in Afineevsky's work through images and news footage, and reveals an authentic glimpse into the events of our time.”


Pope Francis has given his backing to civil unions in a new documentary, Francesco, premiered in Rome. What does this mean, and why is it so controversial? The Tablet’s Rome corespondent Christopher Lamb explains.

Father James Martin SJ, editor of America magazine, tweeted: “Pope Francis's support for same-sex civil unions is a major step forward in the church's support of LGBTQ people. It is in keeping with his pastoral approach to LGBT people, including LGBT Catholics, and sends a strong signal to countries where the church has opposed such laws.”

Michael O’Loughlin, author of Plague, a book about Aids and the Catholic Church, tweeted: “People downplaying the pope’s words, on camera, endorsing civil unions for gay couples should ask LGBT Catholics how the remarks make them feel. Having just spent months researching the Vatican’s statements on LGBT issues in the 1980s for my book, I assure you this is big news.”


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