Vatican Update : Pope Francis backs civil unions for same-sex couples

Vatican City, Oct 22 : Pope Francis has made his clearest remark yet on gay relationships and said that he thinks same-sex couples should be allowed to have civil unions.

“Homosexual people have a right to be in a family,” he said in a documentary directed by Evgeny Afineevsky, which premiered on Wednesday.

“They are children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out or made miserable over it. What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered,” the head of the Catholic Church said.

He added that he “stood up for that”, apparently referring to his time as Archbishop of Buenos Aires when, although opposing same-sex marriages in law, he supported some legal protections for same-sex couples.

The film Francesco, about the life and work of Pope Francis, premiered as part of the Rome Film Festival.

As well as the Pope’s comments on civil unions, the film also shows him encouraging two gay men to attend church with their three children.

Pope Francis’s biographer, Austen Ivereigh, told media he was “not surprised” by the latest comments, and said, “This was his position as Archbishop of Buenos Aires.”

“He was always opposed to marriage being for same-sex couples. But he believed the church should advocate for a civil union law for gay couples to give them legal protection,” he added.

Under current Catholic doctrine, gay relationships are referred to as “deviant behaviour”.

In 2003, the Vatican’s doctrinal body, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said that “respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behaviour or to legal recognition of homosexual unions”.

Earlier in 2014, it was reported that Pope Francis had expressed support for civil unions for same-sex partners in an interview, but the Holy See’s press office denied this.

Then in 2018, Pope Francis said he was “worried” about homosexuality in the clergy, and that it was “a serious matter”.

Agency

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