Pope Francis called for the passage of civil union laws for same-sex couples in a documentary that aired in Rome on Wednesday, in a major departure from the position held by the Vatican’s doctrinal office.
“Homosexuals have a right to be part of the family,” the pontiff said in “Francesco,” a documentary about his life. “They’re children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out, or be made miserable because of it.”
“What we have to create is a civil union law,” he added. “That way, they are legally covered. I stood up for that.”
While serving as archbishop of Buenos Aires, Francis endorsed civil unions for gay couples as an alternative to same-sex marriages. However, he had never come out publicly in favor of civil unions as the pope.
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“It’s not surprising coming from Pope Francis because of the trail of individual statements he has made here and there over his papacy,” Prof. Bruce Morrill, the Chair in Roman Catholic Studies at Nashville’s Vanderbilt University, told NBC News by telephone.