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Pope Francis becomes first Catholic pope to publicly back same-sex civil unions

Pope Francis backs the civil union of same-sex couples in a radical shift from the perspective of his past Catholic predecessors.

Pope Francis has publicly backed the right of same-sex couples to enter civil unions in a new film which premiered in Rome on Wednesday.

The pope’s comments came in Francesco, a documentary surrounding his life as head of the Catholic Church, premiered as part of the Rome Film Festival.

Pope Francis
Photo: Paul Haring

While the Pope has always welcomed homosexuals and been critical of their discrimination, this is the first time that the former archbishop of Buenos Aries has called for a law that would allow for same-sex marriage.

In the documentary, the Argentinian pope says, “These are children of God, they have the right to a family.”

What we have to create is a law of civil union, they have the right to be legally protected. I have defended that.”

While often termed as the ‘liberal pope‘ by stout Catholics, the Pope hasn’t openly supported the term ‘marriage’ between gay people.

In 2017 he told French sociologist Dominique Wolton, “‘Marriage’ is a historic word. Always among human beings, and not only in the Church, it has been between a man and woman. You can’t just change that like that.”

While his most recent support for same-sex couples doesn’t necessarily accept the term ‘marriage’, it is the first time any Catholic pope has called for a law to legally recognise the union between homosexuals.

Such a shift from the perspective of past predecessors, and the Catholic church itself, shouldn’t be as surprising as some may believe. The Pope was famously quoted as saying “Who am I to judge?”, when questioned about homosexuality, and has regularly asked for parishes to accept gay people.

It seems, over time, Pope Francis has become increasingly open to the idea of same-sex unions. Perhaps we’ll even see him grace us with his presence atop a rainbow-decorated float in New Orleans for Mardi Gras next year.