Francis becomes 1st pope to endorse same-sex civil unions

Local figures react to Pope's comments on same-sex unions

"I know there are many bishops in the church that have a different mindset, and would be reluctant to support Pope Francis's views on same-sex unions and would find excuses not to treat us in the LGBTQI community as equals", he said.

The pontiff appeared to have discussed same-sex civil unions during an interview with filmmaker Evgeny Afineevsky for his documentary "Francesco" that premiered in Rome on October 21. They are 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.

"What we have to create is a civil union law".

As Archbishop of Buenos Aires, the pope supported legal protections for gay couples while opposing same-sex marriage.

Chilean Juan Carlos Cruz, an activist against sexual abuse within the Church, accompanied the director to the film screening on Wednesday.

This is the first time a pope has ever explicitly supported this action, though he did not say the church would perform same-sex marriages.

"They will be able to play this card against the Catholic Church", said Father Reese, a senior analyst for Religion News Service, a Catholic agency.

Pope Francis attends a inter-religious ceremony for peace in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Aracoeli, in Rome, on Tuesday.

Papal biographer Austen Ivereigh told Reuters that the Pope's comments in the film were some of the clearest language the pontiff has used on the subject since his election in 2013.

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In 2003, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had issued a document urging Catholics to oppose giving "legal recognition to unions between homosexual persons", particularly when such recognition would equate the unions with marriage and would allow the couple to adopt children. Of his belief in the need for legislation to protect gay couples in civil relationships, he said: "I stood up for that". He became Pope Benedict XVI, the predecessor to Pope Francis. In one of the meetings, Cruz said Francis told him that God made Cruz gay.

Francis's steps to reach out to LGBT people did not constitute a fundamental shift in church teaching, Time noted.

"The word I use is "welcome", Tobin told the New York Times after the visit.

"I have very serious doubts about the moral correctness of this latest statement of Pope Francis", added Bastes.

Francis' outreach dates to his first foreign trip in 2013, when he uttered the now-famous words "Who am I to judge", when asked during an airborne news conference returning from Rio de Janiero about a purportedly gay priest.

The Vatican publicized that encounter, making video and photos of it available, after Francis was ambushed during that same visit by his then-ambassador, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, who invited the Kentucky anti-gay marriage activist Kim Davis to meet with the pope.

It also features interviews with Vatican officials, the refugees Francis met with on some of his foreign trips, prisoners he blessed, and some of the gays to whom he has ministered.

Mr Ruffini said when Afineevsky first approached him with the idea of a documentary, he tried to dampen his hopes for interviewing the Pope.

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