Pope Francis endorsed same-sex civil unions and said in a documentary that homosexual people are "children of God" and that they have "the right to be in a family".
His approval came in the middle of a feature film entitled Francesco, which premiered at the Rome Film Festival today.
The film explores issues that Francis is most interested in, including the environment, poverty, migration, racial and income inequality, and the people most exposed to discrimination.
“Homosexual people have the right to be in a family. They are children of God. Nobody should be kicked out or made unhappy about it, ”said the 83-year-old in one of his seated interviews for the film.
“What we must have is a civil union law; in this way they are legally protected. & # 39;
He added that in an obvious reference to his time as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, he "advocated it" when he opposed same-sex marriage laws but supported some form of legal protection for gay couples' rights.
The Pope's remarks will shock millions of Catholics who have long followed the doctrine that gay relationships are sinful and who accept the Church's stance against the global advancement of gay rights.
Pope Francis (pictured earlier today) has supported same-sex civil unions for the first time since assuming the papal role
How previous popes approached same-sex civil unions
John Paul II
John Paul II (October 1978 to April 2005)
Pope John Paul II condemned same-sex marriage during his tenure, calling it an attack on the fabric of society, before calling on Catholics to fight what he called an aggressive attempt to legally undermine the family.
"Attacks on marriage and the family are getting stronger and more radical from an ideological and legal point of view," he said in a 2004 statement.
"Anyone who destroys this basic structure does serious harm to society and often causes irreparable damage."
Benedict XVI (April 2005 to February 2013)
"A century ago everyone would have thought it absurd to talk about homosexual marriages," Benedict said earlier in an interview with German journalist Peter Seewald.
Benedict continued that equal abortion rights alongside abortion and reproductive technologies are from the Antichrist.
He said, “Modern society is in the process of formulating an anti-Christian creed, and if you oppose it, society will punish you with excommunication.
"The fear of this spiritual power of the Antichrist is then only more than natural, and it really needs the help of prayers of an entire diocese and the universal Church in order to oppose it."
The Catholic Church teaches that homosexual tendencies are not sinful, but homosexual acts.
It instructs that too Homosexuals should be treated with dignity.
The predecessors of Francis, including Benedict XVI. And John Paul II, condemned same-sex marriage during their papal tenure.
Francis himself, as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, spoke out against laws authorizing same-sex marriages in Argentina ten years ago – but he did so supported some kind of legal protection for the rights of gay couples at the time.
Shortly after becoming Pope, he said of gay people: "We must be brothers."
He added, "If someone is gay and seeks God and has goodwill, who am I to judge them?"
Papal biographer Austen Ivereigh told Reuters that the Pope's comments in the film are one of the clearest languages the Pope has used on the matter since his election in 2013.
The Pope, who at the beginning of his papacy used the now famous "Who am I to judge?" Comment on homosexuals trying to lead a Christian life spoke in a section of the film about Andrea Rubera, a gay man who adopted three children with his partner.
Rubera says in the film that he went to a morning mass that the Pope held in his Vatican residence and gave him a letter explaining his situation.
He told the Pope that he and his partner wanted to raise the children to be Catholics in the local community but did not want to cause trauma to the children.
It was not clear in which country Rubera lived.
Rubera said the Pope called him a few days later, told him he thought the letter was "beautiful" and asked the couple to introduce their children to the parish but be prepared to oppose.
“His message and advice were really useful because we did exactly what he told us to do.
"It is the third year that they (the children) are on a spiritual path in the church," says Rubera in the film.
"He didn't mention what his opinion was about my family, so (I think) he's following doctrine on this point, but attitudes towards people have changed massively," he said.
Oscar-nominated director Evgeny Afineevsky was given notable access to Cardinals, the Vatican television archives, and the Pope himself to create the documentary.
He said he negotiated his way through persistence and deliveries of Argentine mate tea and alfajores biscuits that he brought to the Pope through some well-connected Argentines in Rome.
The premiere comes after the Pope praised a nursing mother when he again ditched a coronavirus face mask during the general audience of the Vatican today.
Francis mentioned the Swiss Valentina Frey at the beginning of the audience in the Paul VI Hall while she was breastfeeding her daughter Charlotte Katharina.
He said the act was an example of "tenderness" and "beauty" before continuing his speech.
The Pope said: “Something caught my attention as the readers were reciting the scriptures. The baby was crying over there.
“And I looked at the mother. Who nursed and comforted the baby.
“I've been thinking about how God is with us. How often does he try to comfort and care for us. & # 39;
It comes after Pope Francis praised the Swiss Valentina Frey at the beginning of his Vatican general audience in the Paul VI Hall while she was breastfeeding her daughter Charlotte Katharina
He continued, “It is a beautiful picture when we see this in church and hear a baby cry and see the tenderness of a mother.
“We thank her for her testimony. A mother's tenderness is a symbol of God's tenderness with us.
“Never silence a baby in church because that is the voice that draws God's tenderness. Thank you for your testimony. & # 39;
The Pope no longer wore a face mask for the duration of the audience or when he ended up greeting half a dozen maskless bishops.
He shook hands and leaned forward to have a private conversation with everyone.
The Pope again waived a coronavirus face mask when addressing the audience in Vatican City today
Clergymen laugh when Pope Francis attended a general audience in the courtyard of San Damaso in Vatican City last month without a face mask
While the clergy wore masks during the audience, all but one took off his mask to speak to the Pope.
Only one stopped it and had it lowered under his chin at the end of his fight with Francis.
According to Vatican regulations, face masks must now be worn indoors and outdoors where removal cannot "always be guaranteed".
The Vatican has not responded to questions about why the Pope did not follow Vatican regulations or basic public health measures to prevent Covid-19.
Francis explained to the audience why at the beginning of the audience he didn't dive into the crowd as usual.
But he said his removal from them was for their own good, to prevent crowds from forming around him.
He said, “I'm sorry, but it's for your own safety. Instead of getting close to you, shaking your hands and greeting you, I greet you from afar. But know that I am close to you from my heart. & # 39;
He did not respond to his decision not to wear a mask.
The Pope no longer wore a face mask for the duration of the audience or when he ended up greeting half a dozen maskless bishops
However, Francis wore a white face mask during an interfaith prayer service in downtown Rome yesterday and only removed it to speak.
He had only been seen in one before, getting in and out of a Vatican courtyard on September 9th.
Italian law requires masks both indoors and outdoors.
At 83 years of age and part of a lung that was removed due to illness at the age of 20, the Pope is at high risk of Covid-19 complications.
He has urged believers to comply with government mandates to protect public health.
In the past week, 11 Swiss guardsmen and one resident of the hotel where Francis lives have tested positive.
Coronavirus cases are increasing in Italy, with the Lazio region around Vatican City being hardest hit.
More people are hospitalized and in intensive care in Lazio than any other region except Italy's most populous and hardest hit region, Lombardy.
In the auditorium of the Vatican on Wednesday, the spectators wore masks, as did the Swiss guards. But Francis and his two helpers didn't.
Pope Francis delivered a speech at the Basilica of Santa Maria in Aracoeli on October 20th during an interfaith peace ceremony in Campidoglio Square
LGBTQ Catholics and lawyers have welcomed Pope Francis' message in the hours since his statements were published.
Francis DeBernardo, the executive director of New Ways Ministry, an LGBTQ-centered Catholic ministry, told DailyMail.com, “It is a historic moment when the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, who has long been a persecutor of LGBTQ people In such an environment it was seen moving a supportive direction for lesbian / gay couples and their families.
"It signals that the church is continuing to positively develop its approach to LGBTQ issues."
At the same time, DeBernado urged the Pope to use the same reasoning to recognize and bless the same unions of love and support within the Catholic Church.
"Since the Pope justified his support for civil unions by stating that same-sex couples" have the right to be part of the family ", it would not be a long way for him to do so," he added.
For LGBTQ advocates, Pope Francis' message was not just an endorsement of same-sex civil unions – an attitude he previously publicly discussed – but also an endorsement from same-sex parents who have the privilege of raising families.
Alphonso David, president of the human rights campaign, told USA Today the Pope was "making it clear that LGBTQ people have a right to their own families".
DeBernardo also noted that the Pope used the word "family" in particular in his statement – a more general sentiment than just allowing same-sex civil unions.
"With the word" family "the Pope knows that he is talking about more than just a couple," said DeBernardo, "otherwise he would only have said" couple "."
On social media, the Pope's support has also been welcomed by celebrities and LGBTQ advocates alike.
Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres wrote, "Thank you Pope Francis for seeing love for what it is."
American Arab Institute founder James J. Zogby added, "Daniel Berrigan once said that when the world gets out of hand, it is the prophets who remind us that 2 + 2 = 4." Simple truths that blindly we have forgotten or rejected in order to realize them. Thank you Pope Francis for telling simple truths. & # 39;
Author Jill Filipovic also celebrated the approval, calling it a "step forward" for the Church. She added, however, "But just a reminder that the Catholic Church is still an expressly patriarchal, sexist institution where women are excluded from leadership, and that the Pope is by definition not" progressive "."
Others tweeted that the Pope's remarks show he is "more liberal and compassionate" than Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.
Barrett, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, has been repeatedly criticized by LGBTQ rights groups for being hostile in her handling of issues related to gay marriage and the protection of transgender people.
"Pope Francis is more liberal and compassionate than Amy Coney Barrett," wrote Lindy Li. "Those who are angry with him are more attached to their bigotry than their beliefs. In contrast to her, too, he accepts the science behind climate change. Thank you very much. (Pope Francis). & # 39;
Joyce Alene added that the legal analyst for NBC had also drawn parallels between the Pope's statements and Barrett's nomination.
“There was a time when you couldn't be certified as a federal judge if you were in a country club that didn't allow blacks.
"I was wondering how it is different when Judge Barrett is on a school board that discriminates against LBGTQ people," wrote Arlene, adding, "The Pope has entered the chat."
Not all, however, supported the Pope's declarations. While some LGBTQ advocates have insisted that Francis' comments either came too little, too late, or not far enough, Catholics have also spoken out against the Jesuit.
"Pope Francis must repent," wrote a Twitter user, "because he is leading many naive" Christians "to hell.
“He advocates what the Bible calls an abomination. If he were a man of God, he would already know that. The devil is the best deceiver! If someone disagrees, you have the right to & # 39;
Another member of the Catholic Church, Maike Hickson, said the pope's endorsement of same-sex civil unions "may very well be the breaking point."
"Any Catholic clergyman who sits in silence on the fence has a heavy responsibility," she wrote. "When we let go of this, as we did with Amoris Laetitia and everyone else, what is left of the faith?"
Nancy Fox added: & # 39; Shame, shame on Pope Francis! Home sex is an abomination no matter what the culture says. & # 39;
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