ROME — Pope Francis expresses support for the creation of civil union laws for same-sex couples as part of a new documentary about his seven-year papacy, which is premiering in Rome Oct. 21. But his comments on the matter appear an affirmation of previously articulated views.
In the documentary, titled “Francesco,” Francis says that gay people are “children of God” and “have a right to be part of the family.” The pope then suggests that civil union laws may provide a way for countries to protect the legal rights of persons in same-sex relationships.
Although the EWTN-owned Catholic News Agency reported that Francis’ words were a “departing” from his previous teachings, the pontiff has previously spoken in favor of civil unions at least twice as a way to differentiate between Catholic marriage and relationships recognized by state authorities.
Francis expressed such a view in 2017 as part of an interview with the French author Dominique Wolton. Asked then about the possibility of marriage for same-sex couples, the pope replied: “Let’s call this ‘civil unions.’ We do not joke around with truth.”
The pope also spoke about civil unions in a 2014 interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, in which he acknowledged that states passing civil union laws were primarily doing so in order to provide same-sex partners legal rights.
The new documentary “Francesco,” which is directed by Evgeny Afineevsky, focuses most on how Francis has affected people he has met as pope in various places across the world.
The question of civil unions comes up in the film in a segment that features Andrea Rubera, a gay Italian man who was able to participate in one of the pope’s daily Masses in the Vatican’s Santa Marta residence.