Pop Francis endorsed same-sex civil unions in a new documentary that premiered Wednesday (Oct. 21), becoming the first pope ever to do so. In the feature-length film called Francesco, which aired at the Rome Film Festival, the pope said, “Homosexuals have a right to be a part of the family. 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 have is a civil union law — that way they are legally covered,” he added.
While serving as archbishop of Buenos Aires, Pope Francis previously supported civil unions for gay couples as an alternative to marriage. However, Francesco is the first time he’s ever publicly endorsed civil unions as a pope.
Rev. James Martin — a Jesuit priest known for his outreach to the LGBTQ+ community — called the pope’s declaration “a major step forward” in a statement.
“The pope’s speaking positively about civil unions also sends a strong message to places where the church has opposed such laws,” Martin said.
Elsewhere in the documentary, Pope Francis also condemned Donald Trump’s 2018 immigration policy that separated migrant parents from their children.
“It’s cruelty of the highest form,” he said. “… Separating kids from parents goes against natural rights. It’s something a Christian cannot do.”
According to Vatican News, Francesco weaves in interviews with Pope Francis, members of his family, Pope emeritus Benedict XVI and others. Directed by Evgeny Afineevsky, the film sets out to tell the pope’s life story, his teachings and views on social issues.
“The film tells the story of the pope by reversing the cameras,” Vatican communications director Paolo Ruffini — one of Afineevsky’s collaborators — said in a statement.
Francesco is set to premiere in the United States on Oct. 25 at the Savannah Film Festival.